October 29, 2015

Horse 2018 - Time, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Which country has the most time zones in the world?

The obvious answer would be Russia right? This vast sweeping land of the Rus, extending all the way from Torfyanovka in the west, or even Yantarny in the Kaliningrad Oblast which has Lithuania and Belarus in the way, to Uelen in the east on the Bering Sea, stretches across 11 time zones.

+02:00 GMT Kaliningrad Time
+03:00 GMT Moscow Time - and all railroads throughout Russia
+04:00 GMT Samara Time
+05:00 GMT Yekaterinburg Time
+06:00 GMT Omsk Time
+07:00 GMT Krasnoyarsk Time
+08:00 GMT Irkutsk Time
+09:00 GMT Yakutsk Time
+10:00 GMT Vladivostok Time
+11:00 GMT Srednekolymsk Time
+12:00 GMT Kamchatka Time

Then there's the United States who through conquest, annexation and the amusingly named Guano Islands Act of 1856 which enables citizens to take possession of unoccupied and unclaimed islands anywhere in the world; provided they find bird poo there.
No, seriously. I am not making this up:

Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.
- 48 U.S. Code § 1411, Guano Islands Act 1856

Those 11 time zones are:

−12:00 GMT Baker Island and Howland Island
−11:00 GMT American Samoa, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll and Palmyra Atoll
−10:00 GMT Hawaii, most of the Aleutian Islands, and Johnston Atoll
−09:00 GMT Alaskan Time
−08:00 GMT Pacific Time
−07:00 GMT Mountain Time
−06:00 GMT Central Time
−05:00 GMT Eastern Time
−04:00 GMT Atlantic Time
+10:00 GMT Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands
+12:00 GMT Wake Island, McMurdo Station, and Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station

From what I can gather, Australia might have twelve time zones at the moment. When the clocks go forward for Daylight Savings, without fail there's always some remark about how complex Australia's time zones are. There are six time zones on the mainland at the moment; truth be told I had no idea about Central Western Standard Time which is used in the Eucla region of WA and in Border Village SA.

Australia might have 12 time zones:

+05.00 GMT McDonald Island
+06.00 GMT Cocos & Keeling Islands
+07.00 GMT Christmas Island
+08.00 GMT Western Australia
+08.45 GMT Western Australia - Eucla area
+09.00 GMT Casey Station Antarctica (Daylight Savings)
+09.30 GMT Northern Territory
+10.00 GMT Queensland
+10.30 GMT South Australia (Daylight Savings)
+11.00 GMT NSW, Victora (Daylight Savings)
+11.30 GMT Lord Howe Island (Daylight Savings)
+12.00 GMT Norfolk Island (Daylight Savings)

Then there's France. France as one of the great European powers who felt guilty about having an empire, solved its guilt by simply making all of its far flung islands part of France. You will remember (See Horse 2008) that places like Martinique, Réunion and  New Caledonia don't just live in French territories of French posessions, they live in France. They send members to both the Assemblée nationale and the Sénat French parliament and have full voting rights in Europe.

If that sounds weird, then remember it's no different to Tasmania which is a state of Australia or Hawaii and Alaska which are states of the United States. Some of these places are as much departments of France as Lozère or my favourite, Sarthe.

France's 12 time zones are thus:

−10:00 GMT French Polynesia
−09:30 GMT Marquesas Islands
−09:00 GMT Gambier Islands
−08:00 GMT Clipperton Island
−04:00 GMT Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin (Atlantic Time)
−03:00 GMT French Guiana, Saint Pierre and Miquelon
+01:00 GMT Metropolitan France (Central European Time)
+03:00 GMT Mayotte
+04:00 GMT Réunion
+05:00 GMT Kerguelen Islands, Crozet Islands
+11:00 GMT New Caledonia
+12:00 GMT Wallis and Futuna

The problem that I ran into at this point, is a legal one.
The House of Commons in the UK passed the Statutes (Definition of Time) Act of 1880 and that should have been where the story ended, if it wasn't for the fact that the world is a ridiculously weird place.

The law states that:
Whenever any expression of time occurs in any act of Parliament, deed, or other legal instrument, the time referred shall, unless it is otherwise specifically stated, be held in the case of Great Britain to be Greenwich mean time, and in the case of Ireland, Dublin mean time.
- Statutes (Definition of Time) Act of 1880

However, in the case of Gordon vs R (1889) in the British Court of Appeals, Gordon who was riding his bicycle without a lamp, an hour and two minutes after sunset, when the law stated that he must carry a lamp on his bicycle "during the period between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise", successfully was able to argue that "sunset” is not a “period" of time but a consequence of astronomical fact.

Prior to the arrival of railways in Britain, it was a free for all with regards time and So far, I've found what might be considered to be thirteen different time zones if we assume that time is only bound to the expression as contained within acts of Parliament etc.
I would assume that a clock in a town square fulfills the condition that local time is "otherwise specifically stated" by virtue of the fact that time is being stated on the clock.

Those 13 time zones out of what could potentially be hundreds are, in minutes difference to Greenwich Mean Time:

-23:39 Belfast Time
-17 Truro Time
-13 Barrow Time
-11 Carnforth Time
-9 Liverpool Time
-7 Manchester Time
-6 Leeds Time
-5 Oxford Time
-3 Boston Time
+0 Greenwich Time
+7 Norwich Time
+14:10 Bristol Time
+30 Sandringham time (Edward VII said so)

Even to this day, some places still show their defiance to the House of Commons and pooh-pooh their imposition of time through legislation.

The Bristol Corn Exchange:

There are two different minute hands showing both Greenwich Mean Time (in black) and Bristol Time. I think that it's fair to the say that the time in Bristol is specifically stating that the time is otherwise. I hope so, or else the country with the most time zones in the world is France... and that's awful.

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