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'Slow' cycling in the Guardian

Peter Walker of the Guardian muses about the journey vs. the destination, via bicycle, in this recent blog post.

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Leap second decision put on hold

The International Telecommunication Union recently postponed a decision on whether to do away with the leap second -- which means, by default, it will remain until at least 2015.


The leap second is artificially inserted into the stream of time every now and then to account for the slowdown of the earth's rotation. Like the leap year, this system speaks to a fundamental clumsiness inherent to our system of timekeeping -- however precise it may seem on a day-to-day basis.


Felicitas Arias, director of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, is among those arguing for the abolition of the leap second, as she explains in this interview from December. But scientists could not agree at the ITU's recent summit, so the decision got put off.


"We are using a system that breaks time," Arias argues. "The quality of time is continuity." 


True, but it is hard to accept Arias' unwillingness to come up with an alternate system, instead leaving it to future generat…

"The Efficiency Expert" - a film review

An efficiency expert will almost always play the villain or the fool in any fictional scenario. His rigidity will be mocked, and he will eventually proven to be narrow-minded. The people he sets out to study and correct will teach him some valuable lesson about how there are things that are more important than efficiency. He will throw away his stopwatch at the end, and fall in love. Or something similar.

So it’s no surprise that Mark Joffe’s 1991 film “The Efficiency Expert” sets out to follow this well-traveled path in its nostalgic look at labor, management and “modernization” in 1960s Australia. The theme of the movie can be grasped virtually entirely through the first few scenes, which contrast the old-fashioned, companionable folks of Spotswood, a humble Melbourne suburb, with the dour and by-the-book efficiency expert brought in to “modernize” a failing footwear company. Yet, curiously, Joffe hasn’t bothered to make his workers sympathetic, nor his efficiency expert unreasonabl…