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of thee I sing

Some guy in our office just got back from Canada and was talking about how it was cold, but he wasn't sure how cold because everything was in °c, and how they drove places, but he wasn't sure how fast because everything is in kilometers per hour up there. Then of course some other nitwit pipes in about how stupid canadians are for having all those silly metric units. heh, yeah, canadians are so dumb for using scientific units, what the hell are they thinking?

I really want to be patriotic and love America. But it's so damn hard sometimes. I mean, I'm proud of a lot of things in our country... ethnic diversity, the bill of rights, democratic elections, roads, electricity, technology. America has cranked out some really good ideas and inventions. But I have no respect for people who are just so blindly self-absorbed that they accept everything American as golden. We make mistakes. In many ways we're really pretty backwards and fucked up. One of these ways is definately the standard system of measurement.

It's not based on 10s or even 16. It's not logical. It has nothing to do with science. But we cling to it, and suffer spending money to teach our kids both systems in schools, and pay for the consequences of screwed up conversions. We buy metric and standard wrenches, we buy milk in gallons but soda in liters. Why? Who the fuck cares?

Most everyone I know is always saying stuff like, "I put $15 worth of gas in the car the other day." or "I filled my gas tank two hours ago." How would that hurt us if gas was sold in liters all the sudden? We go for a run and go for 50 minutes, then the next weekend we go to a 10K race. How would it change things if the mile markers were in kilometers? Kansas City is three hours from Wichita. Pittsburg is four. Again, who cares what units the distances on the highway signs are about?

We cling to standard units out of sheer ignorance and pride. Our system, no matter how flawed or illogical, is THE ONE because it's what America uses and America is perfect... we always bomb the right enemies, always cut the right social programs, always aid the right guerrilla revolutionaries. We're right because we have the most nuclear bombs. We're right because we use 25% of the world's oil supply to fuel our giant SUVs just because we can. America just rules all around, doesn't it?

Oh well. I still like my country. It is pretty damn cold up in Canada, I couldn't live there. Cold is cold, the comfort of knowing that it's being reported in °c just doesn't bring enough comfort.

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
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whatupbitch
Feb. 26th, 2004 07:55 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with you on the overall fucked-up-edness of our clinging to this ridiculous, arbitrary measurement system. And your timing is funny here because I'm dealing with this issue right now. I just recently "reset the world" in my 3D modeling software to begin a new project, and forgot that the default units in the virtual space were just that ... units. Nameless, faceless generic Units. Floating numbers like 3.2342 that only have relevance to each other in the context of the virtual 3D space. So set the internal units to inches, just so I could make sense of it in my head, even though it's all the same to the software. Centi/milli/meters were an option, but I chose inches.

It's hard to unlearn these habits.
stemware
Feb. 26th, 2004 07:57 pm (UTC)
You think Canada is funny...

Britain still measures distance in miles but sells petrol in litres.

They weigh themselves in 'stone.'

:-) Think about how to measure fuel economy with that system.
feanelwa
Feb. 27th, 2004 12:39 am (UTC)
Miles per gallon, which is what people know, or litres per kilometre, which is what car manufacturers use and people are coming around to know the scales of. Both are used and many dials have both on. Simple conversion ratio.

Most people in the UK know their weight in st/lb/oz and in kg. I am 9 stone or 57 kg. (Thus I carried a fifth of my body weight for a mile yesterday. Rock on.)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - feanelwa - Feb. 28th, 2004 10:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - olithered - Feb. 27th, 2004 03:07 am (UTC) - Expand
aliki
Feb. 26th, 2004 08:05 pm (UTC)
GREAT POST!!

I actually had a fellow co-worker geniunely ask: "When does water freeze on the Celcius scale again?"

ARGH!!!
tiwonge
Feb. 26th, 2004 08:19 pm (UTC)
It would hurt me a lot, if I were to go on a 10K race next weekend. :/
ferngully
Feb. 26th, 2004 08:36 pm (UTC)
Today it was 0, with a low of -6. Warm for this time of year. My country rocks. The end.

Also, a gallon seems like a whole lot to me. Maybe its just the word gallon that makes think lots and lots of some kind of liquid. Litre sounds like your getting a deal or something.
woodrunner
Feb. 27th, 2004 03:30 am (UTC)

Damn right it was warm. I think the weather actually crept up to 1 C at some point.
(no subject) - smittenbyu - Feb. 27th, 2004 08:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - woodrunner - Feb. 27th, 2004 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - metawidget - Feb. 27th, 2004 10:41 am (UTC) - Expand
kalmire
Feb. 26th, 2004 08:44 pm (UTC)
I personally am a fan of the metric system; it, as you pointed out, actually makes sense, and isn't based on random numbers. How did anyone get 32 to be freezing point? 32 is such a random number! And then you say it's 40-someodd, and you think it's a lot warmer than it is, because 40-someodd sounds warmer than whatever the equivalent is. One of the things I liked best about chemistry was that we worked in the metric system, so it was really easy to convert stuff. Of course, then there's math class, where they had us converting from inches to meters, which was HELL. Not that there's any reason that you'd care about this, but, in my mind at least, it had something to do with your post. Maybe?
(Deleted comment)
jeffrock
Feb. 26th, 2004 08:44 pm (UTC)
Canada represent! :o)
I find it quite funny that the American military-- an organization that depends on maximum efficiency-- uses the metric system, but the rest of the country doesn't.

For some reason this post reminded me of an incident I read about where, for whatever reason, some US politician was uncomfortable with the idea of transcendental numbers so he tried to pass a bill (and even suceeded if i remember correctly) that declared Pi to be equal to 3 (or some other rational number). It didn't last long fortunately.

I don't think there's as much separating Canadians and Americans as many people believe. We watch the same TV, see the same movies, have very similar systems of government and education and speak (more or less) the same language.

Canada's not all cold either-- just certain parts. The town I live in (about two hours north of Washington state) averages between 30-37 degrees C in the summer time and seldom drops below 0 in winter. I can assure you it's one of the most beautiful places on earth.
gikiski
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Canada represent! :o)
I find it quite funny that the American military-- an organization that depends on maximum efficiency-- uses the metric system, but the rest of the country doesn't.

The United States military uses both English measure and Metric. It does not just use Metric units. Degrees F, Gallons, Feet, Inches, etc, etc. are widely used units in the U.S. Navy (I can at least speak to that branch). There were rare conversions to metric or from metric while I was still obligated. If they completely converted, that would be a big surprise to me and it would be THE fastest wide-spread change accomplished by said military.
Re: Canada represent! :o) - jeffrock - Feb. 26th, 2004 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Canada represent! :o) - gikiski - Feb. 26th, 2004 09:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
beskippy
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:14 pm (UTC)
Yay! Canada!

It's pretty warm here in Vancouver... probably about 8-10 C or so, I think. Kinda hard to tell, since a week ago I was up 300 km NE of Yellowknife, and it was usually about -30C there (or -40 and windy, even better!). Everything is warm compared to that!
chezmax
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:26 pm (UTC)
Have you ever been to Vancouver dear? It doesn't get cold there. :)
gikiski
Feb. 26th, 2004 09:29 pm (UTC)
I think I was in seventh or eighth grade when there was big push to shift to Metric. I do not know what happened to stop that push but, it disappointed me to find we just 'forgot' about the Metric system. Those years were just after School-House Rock! started going off of the air and most cartoons were being sanitized. I guess we entered another dark-age where units are concerned. Lame.
(Deleted comment)
olithered
Feb. 27th, 2004 02:58 am (UTC)
"Zero on the Fahrenheit scale represents the temperature produced by the mixing of equal weights of snow and common salt."

(here)
(no subject) - paranoidandroid - Feb. 27th, 2004 03:21 am (UTC) - Expand
smittenbyu
Feb. 27th, 2004 12:30 am (UTC)
I remember in Chemistry 101 in college (in the US), the class had to learn the metric system!! It was quite amusing to watch. Some who have been used and grown up with the fareinheit, miles system, (by the way what is that system called?!) had such a tough time with metric!

I don't know.. I find working with tens a lot more easier than the strange numbers they come up with in the other system...
paranoidandroid
Feb. 27th, 2004 03:25 am (UTC)
the fareinheit, miles system, (by the way what is that system called?!)

In the UK that system is referred to as the Imperial system. You should note (as mentioned in a previous comment) Imperial pints and U.S. Pints are not the same though.
(no subject) - smittenbyu - Feb. 27th, 2004 08:40 am (UTC) - Expand
olithered
Feb. 27th, 2004 04:35 am (UTC)
While I appreciate the accuracy and simplicity of millimetres, I like the way that feet and inches fit onto real world problems, like the width of a shelf, the size of a desk, or the height of a door/person.

Over here you pretty much need an appreciation of both systems to get along. It's not going to change anytime soon. Even I, a child of the 1980s and raised after decimalisation, have no idea of my height in metres.

I know my weight in kg, but it's not my first choice of unit. Yet I don't really do farenheit, nor envy anyone who had to cope with old money (LSD).

I'll navigate on foot in km, but our road system is all in miles. A roadsign in m/km is actually illegal (since it would be confusing).

Enough nonsense. Have a nice day!
smittenbyu
Feb. 27th, 2004 08:40 am (UTC)
you do have a point... although I grew up on metric, till today I don't know my height in centimeters, just in feet and inches...but everything else is metric...
zonk
Feb. 27th, 2004 07:08 am (UTC)
It's our system and it works. Love it.
aparecida
Feb. 27th, 2004 07:12 am (UTC)
I hate when people justify sticking with the customary / British system by saying, "Well, they print the metric volume/weight on food packaging and no one uses it." Well, duh, that's because 1) they print it last, 2) they print it in parentheses, and 3) they use round-number customary measurements which convert to bizarre metric measurements. Like so:
12 fl oz (386 mL) [I made that up]

If, instead, they printed
500 mL (19.3 fl oz)
people would think in metric, dammit.
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