Clock time and the wisdom of babes

Clocks were turned one hour forward in Europe on the night following Saturday March 25.  Today, Monday morning, a Spanish friend named Paloma woke her daughter Adriana, age seven, because it was 6:30, time to get up and go to her karate class before school.  The little girl caught sight of a clock that hadn’t been changed, and protested: “You woke me too early, it’s only 5:30!”  “No, it’s 6:30, they’ve changed the time.”  “Changed the time!  You can’t change time!”

Out of the mouths of babes…

(By the way, that proverbial exclamation, which implies a continuation “cometh forth wisdom,” actually misquotes Psalm 8 and the Prayer Book: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength.”)

Paloma also told us the reason why Spain, though mostly west of Britain, puts itself in the same time zone as Germany, to the east.  Franco wanted to be on German time.  (That doesn’t explain France, which is in between.)


18 thoughts on “Clock time and the wisdom of babes”

  1. When told the reason for daylight saving time the old Indian said, ‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’

  2. Sorry to contradict your friend. It wasn’t because of Hitler or Franco that Spain remained in the central European time zone, but most probably because of De Gaulle. It is a common confusion spread by a certain lobby and uninformed journalists.

    In fact, there is right now a growing debate about the time zone and time uses here in Spain. See, for example (in English): . A website by a physicist in particular is clever in refuting with data that one and many other mistakes (it is in Spanish but might work well with automatic translators): . A paper by him in English is: .

    I find the time zones a fascinating theme to talk about, because it connects peoples’ lives with astronomy, but more often than not here in Spain it is based in false assumptions and biased agendas.

    1. Thank you for that information, Carlos. I would like to see the websites you mention, and it looks as if you gave links to them (after the colons in your text), but the links somehow dropped out. Could you give them again, perhaps just by writing the URLs?

      I made remarks on 2015 July 10 about the time zones in Portugal and Spain:

      (I hope that link shows.) There is a map there, showing that there is a general West European time zone stretching from Spain to Scandinavia, Poland, and Greece, but excluding Portugal. It could well have been desired by leaders, such as De Gaulle, of the new Europe, but the time chosen for it is “+1”, that is, an hour later than Greenwich, best fitting the center of it, which is Germany.

      My other remarks on time zones and “Daylight-Shifting Time” are in so many scattered places that I think I will integrate them into an “Astronomical Calendar 2017” page on “Time”, where they could be referred to, and improved in light of comments such as those of Rick and Carlos. When I have – time.

          1. Very useful, thanks. I see that the menu option “Satellite” in your first link (topmost left) has suboptions for other continents as well.

    2. (The missing links didn’t show up when I put them between angles . I copy below the relevant paragraph).

      See, for example (in English):

      A website by a physicist in particular is clever in refuting with data that one and many other mistakes (it is in Spanish but might work well with automatic translators)

      A paper by him in English is

    3. Actually, Carlos, according to Wikipedia: “In 1940, Francisco Franco changed the time zone [4] by changing 16 March 1940 23:00 Greenwich Mean Time to 17 March 1940 00:00 Central European Time during World War II. This was made permanent in 1942 in order to be in line with German occupied Europe.”

      1. And the source for the second assertion is just a newspaper piece citing an expert by a certain lobby (a better source has been searched but hasn’t surfaced to date).

        What the Wikipedia doesn’t explain, for example, is why the Republic itself had the Berlin hour till the end, or why when conquering Madrid, Barcelona o Valencia Franco put them back in London’s hour. This is why I say that this issue is oversimplified when it’s referred just to being in line with Germany. Most probably the reference to “German occupied Europe” should be undertood as “France”.

        By the way, last week even a book was published after the presentations in a meeting in Galicia: “Is our time zone a problem?”

  3. The Mongolians tried DST briefly, but decided it wasn’t for them and so this year remained on Standard time. A wise decision, in my opinion.

  4. I would like to see all clocks with a 24 hour dial with the hands rotating in the opposite direction.

    If holding the clock towards the north pole the hour hand would be pointing approximately to where the sun is (at the equinox). Midnight would be labeled Zero and be at the bottom of the dial. Likewise, high noon would have the hour hand pointing straight up. The minute and second hand could still count to 60.

    I think everyone would get used to it.

    1. I agree that a 24-hour clock face makes more sense than a 12-hour clock face, but I would rather keep the hands moving clockwise. Our round clocks with hands were invented by people who live in the northern hemisphere and watched the Sun move “clockwise” from east to west across the southern sky. I see no reason to discard that historical artifact — especially in light of the fact that more and more clocks are digital. Many people these days seem to use their mobile phone as their only timepiece. That seems an impoverishment, to me.

      1. I see your point. When facing south (the usual direction of the sun for most of the population), the hour hand would approximate the position of the sun on a 24 hour dial, and we can keep the clockwise / counter clockwise nomenclature.

        I also agree with you on mental impoverishment. Some people can not even read a clock.

  5. Please accept my condolences to all the people of Europe. Here in the US we have been suffering the indignity of daylight “saving” time for two weeks. I console myself with the thought that my personal life will be disrupted by DST only five more times before my planned retirement from work. Until then I will start work, effectively, at 7 am for eight months of the year. And I suppose it could be even worse — some people think we would have more hours of daylight in the winter if we establish year-round DST!

      1. One thing you don’t need in Arizona is one more hour of heat after supper. Too bad there’s no practical way to Spring Back an hour during the summer.

    1. Anthony,I think we should save some of those condolences for ourselves,as we’ve obviously entered a period in America where most people will believe anything !.

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