November 18, 2002
A BULLET DODGED:No Litering (Bill Kauffman, December 1996, American Enterprise)
By now, only withered crones and cowlick hillbillies were supposed to be reckoning in inches and quarts. The rest of America was to have been thoroughly metricized by the 1990s. As Lord Ritchie-Calder, first chairman of the British Metrication Board, told a 1973 U.S. House of Representatives hearing, a metric America "is not only desirable but inevitable; those who do not come in will be out in the cold."
Actually, it's not so chilly out here. For 20 years, recalcitrant Americans have warmed themselves by bonfires made of meter-sticks. We've mercurially rejected Celsius thermometers. The foot has been spared the boot.
The inch, the primary unit of measurement in our customary system, is based on the distance from the end of the middle finger to the first joint; the meter, the fundament of the metric system, is equal to one-ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the pole. (Or so French scientists believed in 1795; they were wrong.)
One system is based on the human body-literally, a human scale-and the other is the mismeasurement of theoreticians, a "French fad" that has succeeded only "when backed by the policeman's club," as one skeptic put it. [...]
America's antimetrics have fulfilled the prophecy of one merry 19th-century song:
Then down with every "metric" scheme
Taught by the foreign school.
We'll worship still our Father's God!
And keep our Father's "rule"!
A perfect inch, a perfect pint,
The Anglo's honest pound,
Shall hold their place upon the earth,
Till time's last trump shall sound!
Some things just make you inordinately proud to be an American... Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2002 9:05 PM