I love Mark Twain’s writing and it does not surprise me that he’s still being read. This morning I read his funny description of a camel. Twain is telling about what they will eat in a chapter about Syria and mentions a thistle with needles that can pierce through leather. “The camels eat these,” he observes. “They show by their actions that they enjoy them. I suppose it would be a real treat to a camel to have a keg of nails for supper.” A few pages later he says, “I make no apology for detailing the above information. It will be news to some of my readers, at any rate.” This brings me to today’s subject, time zones.
I always thought that Russia was the champion country of the world when it came to # of time zones because it has 11 contiguous ones, but it’s not. The winner of the time zone competition is much smaller France with 12. This is the result of the definition of a time zone. There should be 24 time zones on our planet but there are 27 because of the creation of the International Time Zone. Going to Australia always creates confusion because Ruth and I lose an entire day by crossing it. When Australian Robert visited us, he would always call his wife back in Canberra at about 10 am. Have you ever called someone in a foreign country and awakened them because it’s the middle of the night where they are sleeping? This is easy to do.
Most of the world’s countries have one time zone. Only 23 have 2. The United States is in 2d place and tied with Russia because it has 11 time zones too. Most people would argue with this and say that we have 4, but the definition of a time zone is, “An area that observes the same standard time.” France has 12 because it’s still a little bit empire-minded and has territories like French Polynesia, 4 French-speaking islands in the Caribbean, and so on. Great Britain has pretty much disbanded its empire but holds on to places like Bermuda and Gibraltar so has reduced its number of time zones to 9. The United States has Guam, the Aleutian Islands, Puerto Rico and more territories that get its time zones up to 11. Because Antarctica is internationally governed, it also has 9 time zones. My sources for unlocking confusion are geographyrealm.com and wikipedia. Don’t get me started on Baker and Howland Islands, the only places on earth with AoE (anywhere on earth) time zones.
When Mark Twain wrote The Innocents Abroad in 1869, he didn’t have to concern himself with time zones because they were not implemented until 1883.