posted ago by WhitePhoenix ago by WhitePhoenix +22 / -0

Someone I know linked me to this mailing list archive thread:


Seems like they're fucking around with timezone data, but he says it's mostly for muh diversity reasons, but I'm too stupid to follow this thread.

It looks like a sane person is trying to fork the modified time DB away into a separate project and leaving the original alone but I'm having a hard time following this entire thread. Anyone know of what's going on?

Comments (13)
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Assassin47 7 points ago +7 / -0

Way too complex to untangle from a mailing list thread. I can't tell if there are SJW motivations, but I see references to Kosovo and adopting European standards for all countries instead of keeping each country's timezone. Hopefully someone in the know can chime in.

All I know is, everything woke turns to shit.

lgbtqwtfbbq 10 points ago +10 / -0

This is a summary post of the issue written by who appears to be the main objector to the change. It concerns itself with what happens with time zone data prior to 1970, where some city/country specific timezone data was merged in a way that is

  • not backward compatible with previous releases
  • incorrect (eg. someone queries time zone information in 1950 for Oslo but instead gets a result from Berlin because sometime between 1950 and 1970 the time zones merged to be the same)
  • potentially politically sensitive (if you were Norwegian you might be miffed that now you get time for Berlin, especially since you used to get time for Oslo)

On the one hand it doesn't appear to be politically motivated, but on the other hand I don't think it's the sort of change a Norweigan nationalist would make for example.

I'll also say I don't entirely understand some programmers' obsession with making datasets smaller at the expense of accuracy in this modern age. Especially when the datasets are small to begin with. How many people are clamoring for a smaller time zone database?

Guyven 9 points ago +9 / -0

I have read the threads and determined that there WAS significant political motivation in the patch that is being contended. It is apparent in the defenders' stances when discussing it, such as this one:

Paul Eggert eggert at cs.ucla.edu Mon Sep 20 16:15:58 UTC 2021

On 9/20/21 1:06 AM, Stephen Colebourne via tz wrote:

The purpose of the fork would initially be to maintain the tzdb data set as it was prior to the dispute.

Such a fork would arbitrarily discriminate against countries like Angola and Niger, and in favor of countries like Norway and Sweden.

A primary goal of the recent patches was to avoid racial or national preferences that were present in the previous setup. Arguably these preferences were not intentional, or were apparent and not real; however, that's not an argument I would want to defend.

Although the problem of discrimination could also be fixed in the fork you suggest, any such fix would take considerable work. It couldn't be done merely by reverting a patch or two. All this work would be need to be done before any such fork could be used by an organization that is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion.

The opponents have stuck to technical issues in their opposition of the changes, but the defenders keep bringing up racism to argue for the changes. That's to be expected in the current political climate, only one side is allowed to attack while the other is required to meander about the margins without giving voice to the real problem.

The same person later warns that a fork better "satisfy equity, diversity, and inclusion concerns" as a parting threat.

Guyven 7 points ago +7 / -0

The same guy is also adding passive-aggressive comments to his patches when he concedes anything to anyone. An example:

This file should be not be used in production by organizations committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion because it restores the previous tzdb setup, which arguably exhibited racial or national preferences.

This is some serious political hokum.

WhitePhoenix [S] 3 points ago +3 / -0

This reminds me of Ryulong's autism with the GamerGate article...

deleted 3 points ago +3 / -0
lgbtqwtfbbq 3 points ago +3 / -0

Well shit. "German Cat" strikes again.

redguards_are_nwahs 2 points ago +3 / -1


Look at the fucking schnoz on that one

Guyven 4 points ago +4 / -0

Another choice quote from this character for the road.

On 9/21/21 11:40 AM, Tom Lane wrote: It's not like the previous state of affairs was deliberately non-diverse

It'd be hard for me to defend that assertion, unfortunately. And I am in a position where I could well have to defend it, as I am UCLA teaching professor who has institutional obligations in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion. I think other organizations who have similar obligations should also be aware of these issues.

This austere individual is deeply, deeply concerned about the fact that he has to defend this aweful racist mess of time zone information that biases sources that were written in researchable locations and archived for posterity. What about Kenya? What about Niger?!

His entire argument is that the non-existence of those sources makes the existence of 'white' sources racist for existing and taking up space in the database he heavily contributed to back when he was a blithering and blind white supremist haplessly promoting the master race with his vile contributions of facts related to calendars.

His big move was to 'streamline' the database by creating a new arbitrary metric for data inclusion and retroactively apply it to the entire set.

He smugly adds:

I contributed the vast majority of 'backzone' (a contribution that I'm coming more and more to regret :-).

He's an egomaniac traipsing as a friend of the downtrodden savages he regretfully overlooked before.

lgbtqwtfbbq 3 points ago +3 / -0

An actual solution to this problem would be to improve the database info for Niger and Kenya (and whatever other regions he deemed necessary). He's a professor: he has a large reserve of eager cheap/free labor who would love to take this on as a research project if given the time to do so.

Then again, maybe he's just like the rest of us and doesn't really give a shit about any of this "diversity, inclusion, and equity" stuff and has decided to just pack up and start phoning it in. He's right that this is a liability for his career, and one for which he isn't being paid or have any obligations toward. Better to just follow the commissar and damn the consequences.

Mind you I doubt this is the case because then he wouldn't sound so sanctimonious about it, but if it was I wouldn't blame him. After George Floyd Day was announced at work I started phoning it in too.

realerfunction 2 points ago +2 / -0

when's the last time niger or angola mattered outside of a single headline?

MargarineMongoose 4 points ago +4 / -0

I'll also say I don't entirely understand some programmers' obsession with making datasets smaller at the expense of accuracy in this modern age. Especially when the datasets are small to begin with.

Data has never been more bulky and cumbersome. We may have beefier hardware but that's just allowed everything to bloat up. Scale it out by the number of idiots and how many devices each of them has that connect to a thousand servers a day and suddenly efficiency becomes an issue again. Doubly so now that everything is headed back to mainframe style computing with "the cloud".

That and for those who program everything is just one big optimization puzzle and those who are really good at it tend to be obsessives to begin with, so it's just a natural extension of what they already were.

lgbtqwtfbbq 4 points ago +4 / -0

We may have beefier hardware but that's just allowed everything to bloat up.

I'll be the first to agree with you on that. But this is an old library that already has the data structures to handle this sort of complex dataset. To my knowledge no one is complaining that the time zone structure is more complex than it needs to be, because the domain itself is complex. And they haven't removed any of the complexity, they've just shuffled it around to some other part of the library.

That and for those who program everything is just one big optimization puzzle

Yes. The trick is to know where to fight your battles. But still the obsessives also tend to value correctness. If you're such a time zone nerd that you're maintaining an open source time zone library in your spare time, I would imagine you care about the details. Otherwise you wouldn't be doing it at all.