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.]



Jerry said...

Venezuela is far from the only country (including India with 1 billion people) to adopt the silly half hour time zone as the following article attests:

India, the world's second most populous country utilizes an offset time zone. India is a half-hour ahead of Pakistan to the west and a half-hour behind Bangladesh to the east. Iran is a half-hour ahead of its western neighbor Iraq while Afghanistan, just east of Iran, is an hour ahead of Iran but is a half-hour behind neighboring countries such as Turkmenistan and Pakistan.

Australia's Northern Territory and South Australia are offset in the Australian Central Standard Time zone. These central portions of the country are offset by being a half-hour behind the east (Australian Eastern Standard Time) coast but an hour and a half ahead of the state of Western Australia (Australian Western Standard Time).

In Canada, much of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador are in the Newfoundland Standard Time (NST) zone, which is a half-hour ahead of Atlantic Standard Time (AST). The island of Newfoundland and southeastern Labrador are in NST while the remainder of Labrador along with neighboring provinces New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia lie in AST.

One of the most unusual time zone offsets is Nepal, which is fifteen minutes behind neighboring Bangladesh, which is on a standard time zone. Nearby Myanmar (Burma), is a half-hour ahead of Bangladesh but an hour ahead of offset India. The Australian territory of the Cocos Islands shares the time zone of Myanmar. The islands of Marquesas in French Polynesia are also offset and are a half-hour ahead of the rest of French Polynesia

Cassandra_Moderna said...

I do not know what the situation is like, now, but in 1977 I was living in Athens, Greece, and went to the Iran Air office to buy a ticket to fly to Tehran and from there to Kabul. I inquired about the time zone in Tehran and was told that it was 1/2 hour ahead of Greece (or 1 and 1/2 -- it was so long ago that I can't remember). I made the poor fellow repeat himself 3 times because I couldn't imagine what he was saying.

Some time ago, I read that the entire nation of China has only one time zone, that of Beijing.