A contagious confluence, metaphorical hydraulics in chronofluidity, multiple rippling effects.

Location: Lawrence, Kansas

Monday, December 13, 2004

Real Time

At midnight the sun was just setting behind Cohokia Mound. Everyone had made the One Big Adjustment and now was on Real Time. Almost everyone, anyway. Several counties in western Kansas and eastern Colorado had resisted and now were trying to maintain their economies by having sheriff’s deputies issue tickets to Real Time drivers who were not adhering to Kanorado Time when driving through their jurisdictions. The legality of these citations was on the Supreme Court’s docket later in the year. Similar pockets of resistance had formed in parts of Idaho, Montana, and eastern Washington. Internationally, Real Time was adopted except in Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and few other outlyers which chose to maintain their renegade diplomatic reputations. Switzerland, in deference to its historical neutrality, adopted both Real Time and Historically Local Time, necessitating two clocks in most households and business establishments but not disrupting banking, and coincidentally slowing the digitally-inspired decline of Swiss clock making.

Cahokia Man was surprised at how quickly the change had occurred. He’d begun writing letters to the editor and then put up his “Back to the Present” Web site. Unbeknownst to him, the idea took off when his Web site was discovered by Crankdotnet, a Web site that calogued, categorized and posted links to “the crankiest of the cranky” and featured a daily “Crank o’ the Day” link. Here the casual Web wanderer could find compendia of links to anti-gravity and perpetual motion theorists and inventors, cryptozoologists, conspiracy theorists of every imaginable (and some unimaginable) stripe, creation scientists, and others. Cahokia Man would have been incensed had he known he’d been included in such company, but he didn’t, and thus the credit or blame for Real Time passed to Diogenes in his Carpathian yurt.

Eighteen months earlier, Diogenes had been flipping through the channels on his satellite TV when he came across CrankTV, a television spin-off of Crankdotnet. A short feature on the One Big Adjustment caught his attention. Unlike most cranky propositions, which were so solipsistic as to be impervious to argument, the One Big Adjustment idea was susceptible to cost-benefit analysis. Diogenes went to work.

He began with outsourcing. It had started with manufacturing jobs, but had gradually grown to include service and support jobs, marketing and sales call centers, and computer program and systems development and support. Workers in India, China, Singapore already had been adjusting to U.S. and European time zones, especially those workers who handled real-time customer inquiries from the western hemisphere. Data clearly showed that, generally, the West was the world’s economic engine and the East benefitted economically by providing a growing part of the workforce.

Diogenes had not always been a rock and roll drummer and a Carpathian hermit. Before he joined Fecal Matters for his brief lion-terminated stint as drummer, he had been a financial analyst with a couple of large investment groups. His job had been to monitor the fiscal health of publicly-held corporations by looking at their business plans, supply chains, workforce, and management of operational expenses. He was an expert on business process outsourcing before the term gained currency in the media and in stump speeches. He had observed the growing pains in India as their call centers struggled with the disparity in time zones. But the Indians had already made the One Big Adjustment, not because it was a great idea but out of necessity to diversify their economy. Entrepreneurs in other nations took heed and began competing with North American providers by keeping North American business hours. Diogenes knew that Real Time was an idea whose time already had come. He had the data and the industry connections. It wasn’t long before the One Big Adjustment had entered the nation’s, and then the world’s, political discussion.

Real Time was instituted at midnight on the turning of the year. By international agreement, midnight Greenwich Mean Time became midnight Real Time. There had been some debate, for this decision meant that the western hemisphere would arguably be required to make a slightly less drastic adjustment with respect to daylight and nighttime hours, whereas the great majority of the earth’s population resided in the eastern hemisphere. Economic arguments prevailed, however.