[Marxism] VENEZUELA: The Great Clock Plot (NYT)
walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 23 10:39:06 MDT 2007
("Sooner or later, somebody in the White House will notice that the one
other country whose clocks are running to the tune of a different drummer
is Iran. Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are extremely
cozy, always pinning medals on one another and sending anti-Bush jokes back
and forth. At this very minute, Vice President Dick Cheney is somewhere in
his basement, working up a new theory about the Evil Axis of Half Hours.")
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THE NEW YORK TIMES
August 23, 2007
The Great Clock Plot
By GAIL COLLINS
This week, The Times reported that President Hugo Chávez is planning to move
Venezuelas clocks ahead by half an hour. The story created one of those
wonderful moments of newspaper community, as readers around the nation
suddenly shared an identical thought:
Chávez unveiled his plans on his regular Sunday television show, in what
several other news reports referred to as a rambling address. Reaction was
swift, with many people recalling the scene in Woody Allens Bananas when
a revolutionary hero becomes president of a Latin American country and
announces that from now on, underwear will be worn on the outside.
The other popular comment was that Americans are in no position to make fun
of countries whose leaders make incoherent speeches.
Chávez has always been strong on the grand leftist gesture. (Remember the
day that he called George W. Bush the devil at the United Nations?) But
its hard to quite grasp the populist appeal of having to use a calculator
to figure out when the next plane arrives from Bogotá.
In his speech, Chávez connected the time change to his plan to reduce the
Venezuelan work day in 2008. His administration believes that:
1) Cutting everyones work day to six hours will increase national
productivity; and 2) That if you change 7 a.m. to 6:30, it will create a
metabolic effect, where the human brain is conditioned by sunlight.
Now I know all this sounds extremely silly, but in the name of fairness,
1) You live in a country where the administration believes that cutting
taxes for the heirs to billion-dollar estates will lead to increased
prosperity for unemployed steel workers.
2) Every year, most Americans spring forward and fall back so that the Sun
God will send extra rays to we who honor him with the ceremony of the
changing of the clocks.
3) So far, Hugo Chávez hasnt invaded anybody.
Inquiring minds still want to know about that half-hour. The Venezuelan
science minister says the government wants to return the country to the
system it used before 1965.
When it was changed. For convenience.
Perhaps President Chávez just isnt a clock-watching kind of guy. His weekly
TV program is six hours of him talking, which is an extremely long time to
ramble on unless youre Fidel Castro or an American sports commentator.
But what if theres a trend under way here? The list of countries who use
the half-hour system does not inspire much confidence. Theres Burma. And
Afghanistan. And then theres Nepal. When the countries around it are at 3
p.m., Nepal believes it to be 3:45. This may have something to do with the
Newfoundland is on the half-hour system, defying the rest of Canada to do
anything about it. The reason, as Premier Danny Williams once explained, is
that Newfoundlanders like to be different. Their country is mainly about
cod very important, historically speaking, but not frequently in the
headlines these days.
So people there like a little attention. They like having a Newfoundland
Time Zone. They like the fact that the national broadcasters always have to
say: Stay tuned for the news on the hour. On the half-hour in
We may be on to something here. How many countries do you think would feel
better about the world if they just got mentioned once in a while? Probably
wont work for Afghanistan at this point, but we could try getting the
networks to say things like: News is up next, and lets hope its a nice
day in Surinam.
Sooner or later, somebody in the White House will notice that the one other
country whose clocks are running to the tune of a different drummer is Iran.
Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are extremely cozy, always
pinning medals on one another and sending anti-Bush jokes back and forth. At
this very minute, Vice President Dick Cheney is somewhere in his basement,
working up a new theory about the Evil Axis of Half Hours.
Lets just not go there. Riordan Roett, the director of the Western
Hemisphere studies program at Johns Hopkins University, says that the fact
that the president of Venezuela announces something does not necessarily
mean its a done deal. See if Chávez repeats it, he advised. If its just
a one-time thing, the rational people who are still in the government will
just ignore it.
If only we had a similar system in the United States, imagine all the things
we might have avoided over the last six years.
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