It’s a common but ancient saying, first seen in written form in 1225 but it will be a thought experiment among humans going back millennia.
The tide referred to is not that of the sea bringing up images of King Canute showing that even he couldn’t stop the tide from its ebb and flow. It is the pre-modern English use to describe a period of time like a season or a while.
But I’m looking for a deeper definition of time, not just how we are powerless to stop its relentless progression.
However, a compact and robust definition of time has proved to be remarkably tricky and elusive.
There are a couple I like.
Physicist John Wheeler reckons it is what prevents everything happening at once.
Philosopher Adolf Grunbaum suggested it is a linear continuum of instants.
But let’s settle for Wikipedia’s definition, which is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future and the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them.
Why all this navel-gazing about something we take for granted, Steve?
Well, thanks for asking.
It’s to do with the Rugby World Cup and the viewing of it.
When Spark beat Sky to the broadcast rights I thought this will be interesting.
Many of us in the rural community have had great problems with Spark over the years.
Just keeping a landline connection functioning is a high enough hurdle for them, let alone getting a live broadcast from Japan to the United States to New Zealand and live-streaming it across internet connections to expectant and highly excited viewers.
Our landline got so bad whenever it rained with the connections between us and the Takapau exchange getting damp we had to kill it off and use our phone line over our internet connection.
And no, that is not with Spark any more because that wasn’t working very well with my aerial on the roof getting a tenuous cell phone signal down to the PC. A young fellow with entrepreneurial skills set up a wireless network in our region and it is excellent.
Spark made a complete hash of keeping my email account functioning even after I’d set up a payment to keep it going and disconnected me for a week but several phone calls to various folk finally got it reinstated.
So, was I surprised the coverage of the game between the All Blacks and South Africa didn’t go according to plan? No.
I didn’t sign up with Spark Sport but liked the sound of watching a delayed screening on TV1 on my now old-fashioned television.
Then I realised that it would finish past an old geezers’ bedtime so recorded it and went to bed.
Didn’t turn the radio on, wouldn’t have answered the phone if it had rung and I got up and watched a great game of rugby over my coffee and breakfast the following morning.
Which got me thinking of why we have this obsession with watching things live.
If that is your sole objective then you need to be at the game itself. We all know you get the excitement of the crowd, the buzz, the overpriced food and booze but you don’t actually get to see the game as well as at home on the box.
But that viewing on television will be delayed by a few seconds and up to a minute or so depending on the feed, satellites and other stuff I don’t know about. So, not actually live and a bit behind the crowd at the game itself.
In which case why not several hours later? If you don’t know the result and can live with the fact you might be the last person on the planet who cares about the outcome, then why not?
But these are dangerous thoughts.
If we all started thinking this was a very good idea then no one would pay anything to watch live sport. The money flow would dry up and that would be the end of professional sport.
We can’t have that, can we?