Question and Answer

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on October 24, 2014

The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.

Question and Answer—I

  • “ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, Daesh: What’s the Difference?”—headline, International Business Times, Sept. 23
  • “Belgian Chocolate Maker ISIS Needs to Change Its Name Again”—headline, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 23

isis-chocolateBetter Luck Next Time
Vox .com’s Matt Yglesias has another groundbreaking piece of explanatory journalism, “The Case Against Time Zones: They’re Impractical & Outdated.” In brief, Yglesias gets confused when he has to coordinate with people at different longitudes, and he finds the current time zone map aesthetically unappealing because it follows “political and economic logic” rather than simply “divide the globe into 24 equal slices.”

His solution is “the most convenient and most practical time system of all–a single Earth Time for all of humanity”:

If the whole world used a single GMT-based time, schedules would still vary. In general most people would sleep when it’s dark out and work when it’s light out. So at 23:00, most of London would be at home or in bed and most of Los Angeles would be at the office. But of course London’s bartenders would probably be at work while some shift workers in LA would be grabbing a nap. The difference from today is that if you were putting together a London-LA conference call at 21:00 there’d be only one possible interpretation of the proposal. A flight that leaves New York at 14:00 and lands in Paris at 20:00 is a six-hour flight, with no need to keep track of time zones. If your appointment is in El Paso at 11:30 you don’t need to remember that it’s in a different time zone than the rest of Texas.

It’s so simple! Well, except if you’re not a globetrotter–or even if you are, and you’re suddenly expected to start referring to the time when an ordinary workday begins as (assuming you’re on the U.S. Pacific coast) 1 a.m.–or 2 a.m. if it’s the summer.

Next Vox will be demanding that the U.S. start using the metric system. Oh wait, never mind [they did, in a May commentary].

For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”