February 22, 2006


Why the switch to metric could be olympic task (Ben Webster, 2/23/06, Times of London)

BRITAIN must convert all road signs to metric in time for the 2012 Olympics or risk being seen as a backward nation clinging to an awkward and outmoded measurement system, according to a report published today.

As backwards as the world's most advanced country anyway.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 22, 2006 10:49 PM

If the Brits had balls they'd bring back shillings and pence just to stick it to the Euro trash.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 23, 2006 12:12 AM

That would be a ditto here, Jim. When I was in grammar school in the forties, we were told that we needed to learn the metric system ASAP or the world would pass us by.

Didn't believe it then and don't believe it now. If God had wanted us to use the metric system, he wouldn't have given us the inch, the foot, the yard, the mile, the pound or the ounce.

I hope the Brits revolt on changing their time honored system of measurement the same way we revolted a couple of decades back when there were actually kilometer markings on some road signs and grocery items were measured in kilos and other strange designations.

Posted by: erp at February 23, 2006 8:51 AM

Are they going to have to change the signs from English to Eurospeak Too?

I haven't noticed whether the Italians changed their signs to miles for the winter games.

Posted by: Genecis at February 23, 2006 9:23 AM

Trust me, if America switched its measurement standards to rods, furlongs, and pennyweights, the rest of the world would adjust its export products and things would continue much as they do now. They may complain, but because of our economic muscle that's all they would do.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at February 23, 2006 9:55 AM

The Brits would be better off forgetting about the metrics and just converting their vehicles to drive on the right side of the road.

Posted by: John at February 23, 2006 9:58 AM

In what way is metric more "forward" than standard anyway? Both systems are based on the chances of human anatomy - at least with standard we have rulers and measuring sticks built into our bones. There is nothing mathematically special about 10's other than that we have ten digits on our hands.

Posted by: Shelton at February 23, 2006 10:00 AM

Actually, I'm not sure the metric system is even based "on the chances of human anatomy" - the official standard for the meter is the distance between two scratches on a metal rod in Sevres, France, and from there they made their divisions and multiplications of ten.

The French Revolution made all sorts of proposals to forever alter things as they were; nearly all have been rejected by the civilized world, and even by France. Somehow the metric system is different and its rejectors are primitive boobs ... even though I can't think of anybody who uses the Revolutionary Calendar (today is 5 Ventose of the year CCXIV), or worships the Cult of the Supreme Being (the state religion created by Robespierre), or uses that stupid metric clock created by the revolutionaries where there were 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and ten hours to the day. Some watchmakers of the era actually created timepieces that ran on metric; pity them.

The metric system is usually lectured to America by those who argue on the basis of The Consensus Of The People ... except when it comes to American Presidential elections.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at February 23, 2006 10:23 AM

Actually, physicists and computer scientists use a base 10 (actually, base 1000) time system. Millisecond, microsecond, nanosecond …. When I did performance testing, we rendered everying in seconds or some base 10 fraction thereof because it was so much easier to compare than using minutes, hours, days, etc.

It's all completely arbitrary, none of it is "natural", so why not use the most convenient system? Since we have a base 10 number system, a base 10 measuring system is the most convenient.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at February 23, 2006 10:36 AM


The most convenient system is the one that everybody already knows.

When you reported those numbers to those who weren't computer scientists and engineers you converted them back into standard right?

Posted by: Shelton at February 23, 2006 11:33 AM

And when you are messing around inside the computer, you use hexadecimal (or octal on a DEC machine).

The only people who seem to have problems with multiple measurement systems are Eurotrash who berate Americans for being monolingual, and NASA engineers.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 23, 2006 12:26 PM


JPL Engineers.

Posted by: TimF at February 23, 2006 1:17 PM

The most convenient system is the one that everybody already knows.

So, how many teaspoons are there in a fluid ounce?

Metric is a pain until you try to bridge different measurements in the statute system. That's why scientists use metric. Trying to do actual work in the statute system will drive you crazy. However, I'll grant that our current system works well enough, with the exception of cooking. If my recipe calls for ounces and all I have clean is a teaspoon, I have to break out the conversion tables.

Posted by: BrianOfAtlanta at February 23, 2006 2:15 PM


If you measure that precisely you're European anyway...

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2006 2:23 PM

hey, i want metric recipes!

we should announce a new measurement system just to see the rest of the world squawk.

Posted by: toe at February 23, 2006 8:28 PM


Me too! They kept telling me in grade school how we ought to use the Metric system because it makes more sense and America will switch to it some day. I resented this kind of sermonizing because I was very used to "our" measurements and it seemed pretty stupid to get us used to one system and then switch to another. And why should I give a damn that everybody else uses it?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 23, 2006 8:42 PM
When you reported those numbers to those who weren't computer scientists and engineers you converted them back into standard right?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at February 23, 2006 9:40 PM