Time zones, eh? They’re a gigantic pain in the arse. For most of prehistory we’ve never needed them – people never really strayed much from their home villages, and anyone who did travel around the world fast enough to induce jetlag usually put it down to side-effects of being whisked away by the colossal dragon they’d clearly just met.
Time zones were first invented because a few of the more sport-mad of the ancient Greek city-states had introduced the Hundred Thousand Stadia Swim, and wanted to train up an athlete who could swim this distance in roughly no seconds, so they used a bit of artificial selection to breed an athlete with an arm-reach of twenty thousand kilometres.
Their new aqua-giant soon realised that when she fully extended her arms, her left hand would be bathed in radiant midday sunlight, and her right hand cast in a dank midnight gloom. The more pragmatic factions of the Athenian parliament thought that a race of new electricity-conducting Greek aqua-giants spanning their arms around the globe would make a fantastic thermoelectric power plant array, but most of the citizenry also realised that different parts of the planet must experience differing cycles of night and day at exactly the same time. How odd! Why would this be happening?
The industrious Greeks thus gave cognitive birth to the concept of time zones. Sure, it might be dinner time at your villa in Athens, but the thousands of slaves slaving far away in your Alaskan Marmite plantations would be basking in an Aleutian sunrise. They’d become extremely miffed and flummoxed if, as they’re marching out their front gates for a hard day’s work, you instruct them to be sure of a good night’s sleep.
Fast forward to February 1989. Mere weeks earlier, the French, stroppy bastards that they are, had happily thrown themselves into a seventh Revolution, had yet another crack at decimalising time, and declared that a day should contain rather more than ten thousand hours. For convenience, you understand.
Resurgent French Monarchists fired off a counter-revolution later that day, and by evening, Louis Mk. 2000 regained the throne of La France. Many French Republicans turned to vast amounts of consolatory booze that evening, got royally smashed, and by the time the pubs were closing, started spoiling for an even-the-scores brawl. By midnight they’d wrested back political control, and drunkenly declared that the Republican Constitution they’d imposed on France the day before was back in force, and every single last article would be reapplied to French custom and law.
Among these, of course, was that attempt at time decimalisation, and the exact wording of the constitutional paragraph governing the topic was “The number of hours in a solar day will henceforth be multiplied by 1,000”. 24 hours became 24,000. Simple.
The drunk and clumsy Republicans, though, having gained power twice, now applied this amendment twice also. The day had now become 24 million hours long. Through the night, revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries attacked and counter-attacked, wresting political control of France this way and that. Republicans stamped their constitution into French law again and again. The number of hours in a day shot toward infinity. By morning, the Republicans were in firm control of the French political machine, but the number of hours in a day could no longer be written on a piece of paper, and the average width of a global time zone now became smaller than the Planck length.
Oh no! Many NZ citizens began to object to having to adjust their watch infinity times a day. Accurate timekeeping became impossible. For some days, the hyperaccurate atomic clock industry boomed, as nervous global citizens struggled to keep on top of their daily schedules.
Finally, the populace of NZ declared that enough was enough. Time to get this time zone malarkey sorted once and for all. No more confusion, and no more bloody French revolutionaries mucking up a simple day for the rest of us! The NZ government withdrew in secret and held an emergency overnight meeting to discuss this.
By morning, they had it. Get rid of time zones altogether! Anyone can see the sense in the entire planet being on the same time, surely? Let’s make it happen!
Ah, citizens said, but what about the discrepancy between what your watch says, and what the Sun is doing? No problem, the meeting attendees said, we’ve thought of that too! Just you watch this…
NZ’s Galactic Empire space fleet leapt into action, coordinating many thousands of battleships in low orbit. As one, they fired immense tractor beams into the Earth’s crust, strategically triggering helpful tectonic-plate-loosening earthquakes. They carefully began to peel the crust away from the mantle, gently pulling the entire surface into space. This cracked apart the tectonic plates so they could be rearranged into an aesthetically pleasing coin shape – flat and round, and, more importantly, making every last bit of the Earth face in the same direction, exactly like the UN logo. Minus, of course, the laurel wreath, although there were schools of thought in the space fleet holding the opinion that Earth would look just peachy with a nice botanic-looking planetary wreath.
With a bit of gravitational manipulation tech to keep the newly renovated Earth stable and habitable, everyone now had the same time zone, and the French could finally get stuffed.
All was well for a few hours, until the International Flat Earth society launched a gigantic planetary campaign of nuclear terror, due to the NZ government having the insolence and the arrogance to imply that the Earth’s new and current shape hadn’t been like this all along.
68 city-destroying mushroom clouds later, the Galactic Empire Navy Command decided enough was enough, and loaded a save point they’d been very careful to make before they did all this planetary rearrangement. Through the cunning use of a brief loading screen, they returned the Earth to its spherical shape, the world went back to infinity time zones, and the rate at which the French presidency changed hands between the Monarchists and Republicans hit 20MHz.