Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The Morning News: Bananas
Travelers to Venezuela will need to fiddle more than usual with their watches after New Year's because President Hugo Chavez has decreed that clocks will be moved ahead by a half-hour. A half-hour, not an hour, meaning that of all the major nations on earth, Venezuela will be the only one maintaining a time-zone 30 minutes out of step with the rest. *[See correction below]
In a rambling six-hour discourse Sunday on his TV and radio program, "Alo Presidente," Chavez said changing the clocks would allow citizens to benefit from "the metabolic effect where the human brain is regulated by the sun."
After the change, Venezuela will be 3 1/2 hours behind GMT, rather than 4.
And I can't be the only one who's thinking about the 1971 Woody Allen movie, "Bananas," in which Fielding Mellesh, a hapless product-tester from New York, wanders to the fictitious Central American country of San Marcos and ends up as the revolutionary dictator. Among his decrees: That everyone must change their underwear daily, and wear their underwear outside their regular clothes so it can be monitored.
* [Correction appended August 24--As noted in the readers' comments, it isn't true that Venezuela is the only major nation that will set its clocks off the hour. India is on the half-hour. There are other out-of-steppers here and there, including some places in Australia and in the Canadian maritime provinces. Nepal is even odder, being 45 minutes off the little hand.
There is a handy Web site, www.Timeanddate.com for finding out what time it is anywhere in the world. I should have checked it.]