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Mark Atwood
A response to yet another metric rant
At this blog post, which is yet another rant complain that the US has not "gone metric", I posted this reply:

Something I like to point out to people is that the US was the second country in the world to go metric, after France invented it.

All goods sold in the US are required to be marked in metric units.

All military, construction, and custom goods contracts sold to the US government are required to be designed and blueprinted in metric units.

The “customary system” is legally defined in terms of metric units. The US system isn’t a “bastard child of the Imperial system”. Quite the opposite: the Brits kept changing their units of measurement, while the US ones stayed fixed. Which one is the “bastard”?

What you are complaining about is that in the US we have not *forced* people and manufacturers to stop using customary units. What do you suggest? Make customary unit rulers and tools illegal to own? Fine weather reporters for saying temperature in Farenheight. Fine manufacturers and stores for stocking stuff in round units of oz and feet?

Such laws would have a hard time standing up when challenged in court.

This entry was originally posted at http://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/825154.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
3 comments or Leave a comment
rhonan From: rhonan Date: February 8th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree that it would be ridiculous to prohibit people from using the old system. Nor would it make sense to tell people they can not trade in SAE goods. I do, on the other hand, want to see education and public signage 100% metric. Of course, continuing to include the older units of measure on road signs in smaller type during the transition period. Get people used to using both units, and the resistance to using metric will fade with time. Hm, that reminds me, I should go out for a liter of good German beer this evening.
mauser From: mauser Date: February 9th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
The main reason Metric units suck is that they don't scale too well to humans, but the worst problem is the Base 10 basis. Because while it's really nice for the math (If you're mathematically illiterate enough that you can't cope with SAE units) it's rotten for engineering.

Consider, one of the most common things you do is to find the center of something, or divide it in quarters. With metric units, you are soon racking up more decimal places than you could possibly mark out on a ruler. SAE units are most often used with fractions, powers of two, which are just natural for common physical engineering uses.

And in the real world, the size of an item doesn't vary depending on what units you measure it in. An overfixation on Metrification as some kind of cure-all fixes nothing.The distance between Seattle and Portland doesn't change if you measure it in Km, so why is it better?

My Can of Coke is 355 mL, but that's still 12 oz to me. Although in Canada, you can count on 22 ml less. Their cans are 333 mL.
moechus From: moechus Date: February 9th, 2010 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Let me remind you of Proverbs 20:10: "Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD."

Falwell and Robertson thought that 9/11 and Katrina were God's punishment for permitting abortion and gay marriage. It is just as probable that they were God's punishment for our stubborn refusal to adopt the metric system and our persistence in maintaining "divers weights and divers measures."
3 comments or Leave a comment