Archive for the ‘Time’ Category

Time, and intellectual community

January 7, 2021

In the latest (December 2020) issue of the journal Language (vol. 96, no. 4), Brian Joseph’s “What is time (and why should linguists care about it)?”, an article that originated as his presidential address at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) annual meeting in New Orleans on 4 January 2020. The article (abstract below) combines broad humanistic scholarship with fine-grained philological and dialectological research on the Greek language.

Meanwhile, the article is thick with thanks to all sorts of people, a characteristic that is not just personal niceness — though in some cases it is certainly that — but reflects a view about the nature of intellectual community.


It’s always 4 a.m.

December 6, 2020


(Another posting from my time in rehab in Palo Alto, this one — about my body’s schedule — originally written up on 12/4. As before, it’s very much a bare-bones posting — there’s a lot about posting to my blog that is still a cognitive mystery to me, thanks to alcohol poisoning.)

For a long time, my “natural” schedule was to go to sleep around 8 p.m. (unless the prednisone I was taking made me crazy and unable to get to sleep until exhaustion took over as midnight approached) and woke around 4 a.m. (one hour into MSNBC’s Morning Joe show, which begins at 6 a.m. Eastern time. I generally awake on my own, within about 15 minutes of 4 a.m. So it’s “always 4 a.m.”

As I emerge from alcohol poisoning and alcohol withdrawal syndrome, a natural schedule has asserted itself very clearly. I become sleepy at about 7 p.m. and doze off then, despite interruptions for medication, checks of vital signs, blood draws, and the like.

I then wake up, on my own, at very close to 3 a.m. on the nose. I am in fact jerked into consciousness suddenly at 3 a.m. And I’m up and into my day. I started writing this piece at just after 3 a.m. in fact.

So: now it’s always 3 a.m.

I puzzled over this for some time, until I realized that 3 a.m. PST is in fact 4 a.m. PDT. My body is still on Daylight time.

I’m not sure how to fix this, or indeed whether it needs fixing. Here at the rehab facility, I get CNN rather than MSNBC, but when I go home — tomorrow morning! — I’ll be up for the beginning of Morning Joe.

I have long been an unfan of the Standard – Daylight time alternation, which I find surprisingly hard to adjust to. I would like us to pick one scheme and stick to it. I don’t really care which one.

[The aftermath. Back home on 12/5 and full of excitement over how easily I managed physical movements I had fretted about; I had in fact been cleverly prepared for these by the rehab’s therapists. So I was giddy and my mind raced on until way late, until I eventually dropped off to sleep. Thinking: well, at least this should reset my body clock. But no: up at 3 a.m. again, dammit.]


Tom Toro

June 9, 2016

Caught in the May 9th New Yorker, this Tom Toro cartoon:


A little slideshow on time adverbials and the times they refer to, understood figuratively.

Toro hasn’t appeared on this blog before, but he’s a prolific cartoonist with an ear for language and an inclination to play with classic cartoon memes (like the desert island or, as below, penguins and their discriminability).