The Greatest Battle of All: Metric or Imperial?

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

Metric or Standard?

Metric!
176
88%
Imperial!
25
12%
 
Total votes: 201

User avatar
space_raptor
Posts: 1497
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 5:02 pm UTC
Location: Calgary
Contact:

Postby space_raptor » Fri Aug 17, 2007 6:00 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:More evidence of the mind-weakening effects of metric. :-)

This is frustrating. You think metric is mind-weakening on the one hand.

Yet you hold that we should use Fahrenheit because it is simpler to use on the other hand. Doesn't it seem to you that this is not a consistent approach? Shouldn't you be a proponent of Celsius, because it is (according to you) a more difficult scale to use? Isn't Fahrenheit the "mind-weakening" scale, here? :?

Sorry if it seems I'm harping on this, but I am really confused by your approach in particular.
The drinking will continue until morale improves.

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Postby Malice » Fri Aug 17, 2007 6:51 am UTC

It's very simple, SR. Here's how his argument works:

1. Your preferred system is simplistic. It will make us all stupid.
2. My preferred system is simplistic. This will make our lives easier.
3. Your preferred system is too complicated. It will make our lives harder.
4. My preferred system is complex. It will make us all smarter.

Understand?

User avatar
hyperion
"I'll show ye...."
Posts: 1569
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:16 pm UTC
Location: Perth

Postby hyperion » Fri Aug 17, 2007 8:49 am UTC

Malice wrote:Most the world uses metric, yes. It's not a popularity contest. A plurality of people speak Chinese; that doesn't mean we all should.

1,321,851,888/6,602,274,812 people speak Cantonese.
6,256,436,881/6,602,274,812 people use metric.

That's a fucking huge difference.
Peshmerga wrote:A blow job would probably get you a LOT of cheeseburgers.
But I digress.

User avatar
Kawa
Posts: 714
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:24 pm UTC
Location: Melbourne, FL/New York City/xkcdia
Contact:

Postby Kawa » Fri Aug 17, 2007 8:55 am UTC

HYPERiON wrote:
Malice wrote:Most the world uses metric, yes. It's not a popularity contest. A plurality of people speak Chinese; that doesn't mean we all should.

1,321,851,888/6,602,274,812 people speak Cantonese.
6,256,436,881/6,602,274,812 people use metric.

That's a fucking huge difference.

Why are you using Cantonese instead of Mandarin? And your number sounds very off, considering Mandarin (which is more spoken) has 1.051 billion (873 million native)...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_la ... e_speakers
Kawa likes these things:
Spanish Ninja Bodyguard
math, anime, more!
Origami, Florida
New York, and xkcd.

User avatar
Andrew
Posts: 619
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:59 pm UTC
Location: Manchester, UK
Contact:

Postby Andrew » Fri Aug 17, 2007 12:10 pm UTC

Malice wrote:However, I don't do any scientific experiments.


Do you ever bake a cake?

What if the recipe calls for half a pint of water (it's a massive cake), but you're not sure what kind of pint it is? What if you can figure it out, but you don't have a measuring jug to hand -- but you do have weighing scales? If you're using metric it's easy as pie (to mix my baking metaphors) to work out what weight you're going to need. What if it quotes weights in pounds but your scale only has ounces marked on? Quick! Seven sixteens! In your head!

The benefits of metric are most obvious when doing science, but they're useful everywhere.

Did you know there's an imperial unit equal to 0.792 inches? It's good stuff.

User avatar
hyperion
"I'll show ye...."
Posts: 1569
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:16 pm UTC
Location: Perth

Postby hyperion » Fri Aug 17, 2007 12:33 pm UTC

Kawa wrote:
HYPERiON wrote:
Malice wrote:Most the world uses metric, yes. It's not a popularity contest. A plurality of people speak Chinese; that doesn't mean we all should.

1,321,851,888/6,602,274,812 people speak Cantonese.
6,256,436,881/6,602,274,812 people use metric.

That's a fucking huge difference.

Why are you using Cantonese instead of Mandarin? And your number sounds very off, considering Mandarin (which is more spoken) has 1.051 billion (873 million native)...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_la ... e_speakers

For some reason I forgot about Mandarin. "1,321,851,888" is the population of China, as of July 2007. So it's counting both languages, and more.
But if you want to use only one language, the gap grows even wider.

EDIT:
20.0% of Earth's population live in China and speak whatever.
94.8% of Earth's population use metric.
Peshmerga wrote:A blow job would probably get you a LOT of cheeseburgers.
But I digress.

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:52 pm UTC

Is anyone arguing that the rest of the world should switch to what the US uses?

User avatar
space_raptor
Posts: 1497
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 5:02 pm UTC
Location: Calgary
Contact:

Postby space_raptor » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:09 pm UTC

Malice wrote:It's very simple, SR. Here's how his argument works:

1. Your preferred system is simplistic. It will make us all stupid.
2. My preferred system is simplistic. This will make our lives easier.
3. Your preferred system is too complicated. It will make our lives harder.
4. My preferred system is complex. It will make us all smarter.

Understand?

On the contrary! :) I think both systems are equally usable in terms of their complexity. I think this particular argument boils down to numerical semantics, and that either way would be fine for people to use, solely in terms of the number-crunching the average person would have to do. My evidence is, well, the entire world besides the US gets along just fine.
The drinking will continue until morale improves.

User avatar
TheTankengine
Our Fora-father
Posts: 3328
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 2:09 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, KY
Contact:

Postby TheTankengine » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:43 pm UTC

Dibley wrote:I now feel very stupid. I have been told all my life that 1 pint = 1 pound. I suppose my dad was wrong. In that case imperial sucks a lot more than I thought it did, having no easy conversion between volume and weight.

Oh, and I meant 8, not one. Not only should I verify what I post, I should get better at typing. :oops:


Well, it's not that far off. A pint of water is usually just over a pound (~1.04 at STP), but for estimation purposes a pound is good enough. The saying I've heard (to help remember) is "A pint a pound the world around."

Really, the only problem with your post is that you had a typo of 1 instead of 8, which is unfortunate but understandable.
be centered
be compassionate
be interesting

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Postby Vaniver » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:52 pm UTC

But it honestly makes more sense for me to say, USCS works best for whenever I'm not doing scientific experiments. Metric works best for whenever I'm doing scientific experiements.
Right, but USCS only works best because you're familiar with it. As I said, I realize that the switching costs are significant and the real benefits for switching are minimal. But there are a number of intangible benefits (like using the same system as the rest of the world,* and moving towards modernity, etc) that I think make it worthwhile.


*This is actually a tangible benefit, when it comes to packaging, but I think the diplomatic aspect is somewhat larger than the economic one.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26822
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Aug 17, 2007 3:32 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:What if it quotes weights in pounds but your scale only has ounces marked on? Quick! Seven sixteens! In your head!


112.

You probably only thought it was hard because your mind has been so weakened by just moving around decimal places.

Also, most kitchen scales I've seen, whatever unit they're marked in, don't go up to 7lbs. (About 3.18 kilos for you weak-minded folks. Yes, I did that in my head, too.) You either get it in a package as big as the recipe calls for, you weigh out one pound 7 times (or 2 pounds 3 times and 1 pound once, or whatever), or you bring in your bathroom scale do to the cooking.

Did you know there's an imperial unit equal to 0.792 inches?


Is the millichain a unit? Because that's the only one I can think of that's that long.

HYPERiON wrote:94.8% of Earth's population use metric.


No, 94.8% of Earth's population lives in a country that *officially* uses metric for day-to-day activities. Speakig of China, I bet a lot of peasants there not only don't measure their stuff in kilograms, but also couldn't tell you how much water that is any better than the average American could tell you how big a pound of water is. Anyway, as said by the same Units of Measurement dictionary I've linked to in the past,

All countries have adopted the metric system, including the U.S., and most countries (but not the U.S.) have taken steps to eliminate most uses of traditional measurements. However, in nearly all countries people still use traditional units sometimes, at least in colloquial expressions. Becoming metric is not a one-time event that has either happened or not. It is a process that happens over time. Every country is somewhere in this process of going metric, some much further along than others.


The italicized part is the main difference between the US and the rest of the world. Our scientists use it just like scientists everywhere else. Other Americans use traditional (USCS in this case) units, just like some people everywhere else.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Postby Vaniver » Fri Aug 17, 2007 5:51 pm UTC

You probably only thought it was hard because your mind has been so weakened by just moving around decimal places.
This joke stopped being funny a long time ago. Ones overall mental strength and ones ability to do simple math are considerably different.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
4=5
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Postby 4=5 » Fri Aug 17, 2007 7:39 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:
Malice wrote:However, I don't do any scientific experiments.


Do you ever bake a cake?

What if the recipe calls for half a pint of water (it's a massive cake), but you're not sure what kind of pint it is? What if you can figure it out, but you don't have a measuring jug to hand -- but you do have weighing scales? If you're using metric it's easy as pie (to mix my baking metaphors) to work out what weight you're going to need. What if it quotes weights in pounds but your scale only has ounces marked on? Quick! Seven sixteens! In your head!

The benefits of metric are most obvious when doing science, but they're useful everywhere.

Did you know there's an imperial unit equal to 0.792 inches? It's good stuff.
what recipie uses pints?? all the ones I know use cups tbsps tsps or parts

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Fri Aug 17, 2007 7:44 pm UTC

4=5 wrote:
Andrew wrote:
Malice wrote:However, I don't do any scientific experiments.


Do you ever bake a cake?

What if the recipe calls for half a pint of water (it's a massive cake), but you're not sure what kind of pint it is? What if you can figure it out, but you don't have a measuring jug to hand -- but you do have weighing scales? If you're using metric it's easy as pie (to mix my baking metaphors) to work out what weight you're going to need. What if it quotes weights in pounds but your scale only has ounces marked on? Quick! Seven sixteens! In your head!

The benefits of metric are most obvious when doing science, but they're useful everywhere.

Did you know there's an imperial unit equal to 0.792 inches? It's good stuff.
what recipie uses pints?? all the ones I know use cups tbsps tsps or parts


Replace "pints" with "cups" and replace "litres" with "millilitres".

User avatar
4=5
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Postby 4=5 » Fri Aug 17, 2007 8:10 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
4=5 wrote:
Andrew wrote:
Malice wrote:However, I don't do any scientific experiments.


Do you ever bake a cake?

What if the recipe calls for half a pint of water (it's a massive cake), but you're not sure what kind of pint it is? What if you can figure it out, but you don't have a measuring jug to hand -- but you do have weighing scales? If you're using metric it's easy as pie (to mix my baking metaphors) to work out what weight you're going to need. What if it quotes weights in pounds but your scale only has ounces marked on? Quick! Seven sixteens! In your head!

The benefits of metric are most obvious when doing science, but they're useful everywhere.

Did you know there's an imperial unit equal to 0.792 inches? It's good stuff.
what recipie uses pints?? all the ones I know use cups tbsps tsps or parts


Replace "pints" with "cups" and replace "litres" with "millilitres".
ok then it's easy, I know within a reasonable error margin(+/- a teaspoon) what a cup of something looks like so it's all good, and I don't have to memorize the densities of all the materials

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Postby Malice » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:58 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:
Malice wrote:However, I don't do any scientific experiments.


Do you ever bake a cake?

What if the recipe calls for half a pint of water (it's a massive cake), but you're not sure what kind of pint it is? What if you can figure it out, but you don't have a measuring jug to hand -- but you do have weighing scales? If you're using metric it's easy as pie (to mix my baking metaphors) to work out what weight you're going to need. What if it quotes weights in pounds but your scale only has ounces marked on? Quick! Seven sixteens! In your head!

The benefits of metric are most obvious when doing science, but they're useful everywhere.


I rarely bake cakes, being, you know, a man's man, but occasionally I find myself in this sort of situation.

Only I have a measuring cup (it's a nifty one with metric and USCS measures on it!), and weighing scales as well (which I don't use as often). I've never ever ever seen a recipe which requires anything in pints whatsoever. Only ones which deal in cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, etc. I have utensils to deal with all of those.

7 16s? 7 times 10 is 70. 7 times 6 is 42. 42 plus 70 is 112. (Just writing out what I do much faster in my head.)

Your example is decidedly uncompelling.

User avatar
Andrew
Posts: 619
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:59 pm UTC
Location: Manchester, UK
Contact:

Postby Andrew » Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:10 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Did you know there's an imperial unit equal to 0.792 inches?


Is the millichain a unit? Because that's the only one I can think of that's that long.


I was thinking of the link, which I'm now told is actually 7.92 inches, which is still bloody stupid, not least because it's a damn massive chain link that's 8 inches across. Though it does demonstrate another point beautifully: if I told the average person to bring me one link of fabric they would have no idea at all how much that was. They'd have to look it up. On the other hand, if I asked them to bring be a centigram of it, they'd instantly know exactly how much I wanted, because metric units aren't given stupid names.

Of course, I would never ask for a link of fabric, because the link is a surveyor's unit. This is another flaw with the imperial and US systems: you have one batch of units for surveyors, one for sailors, one for cooks, and so on. The conversion factors between them are things like 7.92 and two-and-two-seventy-fifths (yards in a fathom). In fact, Wikipedia now tells me that there are two very slightly different units called the "foot". That simply doesn't happen in metric.

I can't understand how people can defend these archaic and slightly stupid systems. There is precisely one argument against full metric conversion: the cost and difficulty of the conversion itself.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26822
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:24 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Did you know there's an imperial unit equal to 0.792 inches?


Is the millichain a unit? Because that's the only one I can think of that's that long.


I was thinking of the link, which I'm now told is actually 7.92 inches, which is still bloody stupid, not least because it's a damn massive chain link that's 8 inches across.


It's not actually a physical chain with links that long. It's because a chain is 792 inches (66 feet, or 1/80 mile), and this is 1/100 (nice decimal factor there) of a chain. Let's see, we need a name for part of a chain... How about "link"?

two-and-two-seventy-fifths (yards in a fathom).


How do you figure that? A USCS fathom is 6 feet. The fact that the British Admiralty once defined it as 6.08 feet (before 1958) is not particularly relevant. Nor is it a strong mark against that system, seeing how every unit of the SI system was previously defined some other way than it is now.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

nick15
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2007 10:52 pm UTC
Contact:

Postby nick15 » Sat Aug 18, 2007 11:00 pm UTC

Metric time! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_time

Seriously, anyone clamoring for Americans to switch from USCS to Metric should really consider switching to Metric Time. It's much easier (100 hours a day, 100 minutes in an hour, 100 seconds in a minute)... at least easier than the totally stupid and arbitrary 24 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour, 60 seconds a minute kinda thing. One day = one kilosecond... what's so hard about that?

But if you're not a big fan of switching to metric time for whatever reason, that's cool. Just realize that the resistance towards going from USCS to Metric is probably for the same reasons. :)

User avatar
Bondolon
Posts: 436
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:26 pm UTC
Location: College Station, TX
Contact:

Postby Bondolon » Sun Aug 19, 2007 2:07 am UTC

nick15 wrote:Metric time! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_time

Seriously, anyone clamoring for Americans to switch from USCS to Metric should really consider switching to Metric Time. It's much easier (100 hours a day, 100 minutes in an hour, 100 seconds in a minute)... at least easier than the totally stupid and arbitrary 24 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour, 60 seconds a minute kinda thing. One day = one kilosecond... what's so hard about that?

But if you're not a big fan of switching to metric time for whatever reason, that's cool. Just realize that the resistance towards going from USCS to Metric is probably for the same reasons. :)


I think you're a bit mixed up. Decimal time is a format of time for a day, Metric time basically only talks about the second being the base unit of measure.

Gadren
Posts: 466
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 6:54 pm UTC

Postby Gadren » Sun Aug 19, 2007 4:18 am UTC

Precisely -- any real engineering work (IIRC) only uses seconds (that is, scientific papers will try not to break it down into hours, days, or weeks, unless it's really needed). Also, one of the main benefits of the metric system is that everyone uses it. Decimal time isn't that way.

Rendon
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2007 4:24 am UTC

Postby Rendon » Sun Aug 19, 2007 4:31 am UTC

I'll have to vote for imperial for normal use and the cgs for science (meters are just so big!).

I'm really not interested in the ease of working with the numbers once they are measured, but until then I know that my shoe is exactly 1 foot long, my half-stride is exactly 1 yard long, my index phalanges are exactly 1 inch long ect.

If I went orienteering with a compass and a map that came in Km, I'd be screwed! (Its also not a matter of re-adjusting my stride, I'm not quite tall enough for a meter; a yard is almost too long.)

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Postby Malice » Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:19 am UTC

Gadren wrote:Also, one of the main benefits of the metric system is that everyone uses it.


Ah, but that would only apply for those people who currently have to convert between the two systems. Most Americans need never come into contact with metric at all, and vice-versa.

Gadren
Posts: 466
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 6:54 pm UTC

Postby Gadren » Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:23 am UTC

Malice wrote:
Gadren wrote:Also, one of the main benefits of the metric system is that everyone uses it.


Ah, but that would only apply for those people who currently have to convert between the two systems. Most Americans need never come into contact with metric at all, and vice-versa.


Considering globalization and international trade (including the EU's upcoming ban on imperial units being on products), this is going to be impacting more and more Americans.

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Postby Malice » Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:27 am UTC

I doubt it. It'll affect people who make and sell products for the EU, maybe.

User avatar
Andrew
Posts: 619
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:59 pm UTC
Location: Manchester, UK
Contact:

Postby Andrew » Sun Aug 19, 2007 12:30 pm UTC

Rendon wrote:I'll have to vote for imperial for normal use and the cgs for science (meters are just so big!).

Yeah, not like those yards that are less than 10% different.

I like having feet and inches around, but I don't really see how using miles (1760 paces) is any better than kilometers (1094 paces). They're neither of them what I'd call convenient numbers. Heck, call it 1100 pace to a kilometre and that's much more convenient for most purposes.

Teshi
Posts: 210
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:00 am UTC

Postby Teshi » Sun Aug 19, 2007 4:29 pm UTC

Fahrenheit IS much better than celsius at describing everyday outdoor temperature.


I would say the exact opposite. Although with fahrenheit you can get a more detailed image without going into parts-of-a-degree, there's no reason why we shouldn't use half and quarter degrees to measure things. We do with everything else.

It is endlessly helpful to know that it's "below 0" or "above 0" in anywhere where it's cold, which is quite a large bit of the northern US. It's also useful to know that 100 degrees is the boiling temperature of water. And yes, it's arbitrary that it's water, but since water makes up such a massive part of our planet's weather, it seems like the most logical system to use.

Also, Given that the third temperature measuring system, Kelvin, has the same 'size' degrees as Celcius, starting with '0' at Absolute Zero, it also makes sense to use Celcius so you can convert easily and quickly between 'weather' degrees and chemical degrees.

I measure people and people-sized-things in feet and inches and everything else in metric, so I picked metric.

In Britain, everything is in Metric except for road signs, so there's no reason why the US should be any less confusing. Road signs can be replaced as they need to be.

User avatar
Andrew
Posts: 619
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:59 pm UTC
Location: Manchester, UK
Contact:

Postby Andrew » Sun Aug 19, 2007 11:16 pm UTC

Teshi wrote:In Britain, everything is in Metric except for road signs, so there's no reason why the US should be any less confusing. Road signs can be replaced as they need to be.

Road signs, beer, and milk are, I think, the three legal exemptions from out metric laws.

yannick_LM
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 4:08 pm UTC
Location: Paris - France

Postby yannick_LM » Tue Aug 21, 2007 2:46 pm UTC

As a French, I just HAD to take part of this discussion, for the use of metric system is part of the French Revolution in 1789. And it was really a very serious business at this time : ( one Republic, one way of measuring things, every citizens with the same rights and the same way of measuring things, and so on )...
And, as someone said, the fact that people should drop their "traditional" measurements for a scientific and rationalized system was totally part of the spirit of the "Age of Enlightenment".

It's funny that time is the only thing that did not work. How come that we can have without great difficulties metric systems for space and mass, but not for time ?
In a worl without walls, what is the use for gates and windows ?

User avatar
evilbeanfiend
Posts: 2650
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:05 am UTC
Location: the old world

Postby evilbeanfiend » Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:21 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:
Teshi wrote:In Britain, everything is in Metric except for road signs, so there's no reason why the US should be any less confusing. Road signs can be replaced as they need to be.

Road signs, beer, and milk are, I think, the three legal exemptions from out metric laws.


even then beer and milk are listed as metric anyway. the uk is a great example of how to do imperial->metric without spending crap loads, i.e. do it gradually. my paprents generation still think in imperial but my generation mostly thinks in metric bar a few things, im sure in a generation or two even they will be metricised.

probably the most incongruous thing we have at the moment in the uk is that we have switched to buying petrol in litres but car fuel economies are still quoted in mpg (presumeable because we might as well wait until we change road signs to km rather than use the wierd mixed unit of mpl)
in ur beanz makin u eveel

Teshi
Posts: 210
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:00 am UTC

Postby Teshi » Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:35 pm UTC

10 day-long weeks and only one holiday out of that 10? Gee, I wonder why people didn't jump at that.

Different measurements of space don't really directly affect your life. Houses don't get dramatically smaller, roads don't get significantly wider. However, when your week suddenly from 7 to 10 days and thus you get 4% less time off- instead of getting 52 days off, you get 36? And it's not even Sunday. You can't even go to church.

Since the 10-day week was so tied to the decimal system, it's no wonder it didn't work.

Also, 24 hours actually makes more sense in a day. It's devisable by 2, 4, 3 6, 8 and 12- in halves, quarters, thirds, sixths, eighths and twelfths... which is why 12 is so popular as a number in the older world. 10 is not divisible in quarters OR thirds and since we talk about time so much, speed in saying it is more important than in temperature, for example.

60 and 100 seem to be just as useful. You can divide both evenly by half and in quarters. You can get 10ths out of both, although who measures time in 10ths? (that would probably replace our five minutes).

There's a reason people still use feet and inches to measure certain things- because they're simply so useful. Metres may be brilliant for maths and science, but for real life it makes sense to say 'three feet' instead of using the longer and more nebulous metre.

Also, if we changed the time, we'd have to change all those songs: "11 Days a Week", and that Rent song: "Three-hundred, sixty-five miiiiinutes..." (it doesn't work) ;)

I think people have a stronger fondness for the way our hours are arranged than they do for distance. After all, in distance, people say things like "three blocks" or "ten minutes" as opposed to "a mile". Distance is used more predominately in written measurements- on maps, in calculations and therefore it's less ingrained. Time, interestingly, is far more present in our lives.

You could write an essay on this.

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:41 pm UTC

What I don't get is why saying "Five foot Seven" is easier than saying "One hundred and seventy centimeters". I mean, there are a few more syllables, but not much.

User avatar
22/7
I'm pretty sure I have "The Slavery In My Asshole" on DVD.
Posts: 6475
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 3:30 pm UTC
Location: 127.0.0.1

Postby 22/7 » Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:48 pm UTC

The major problem with many of the arguments presented by many of the everyone-should-use-metric camp is that you're trying to say "the furlong or the link or the hogshead are stupid" (seriously disappointed that you didn't come up with the hogshead. I expected better from you). And you're right, we don't need a link for measurement. And so we don't use it. To say that it's a problem that there are two different kinds of pints is also quite ridiculous. As they won't be used in baking, and the only measurement they're really used for is selling beer, one must only know whether they are in the US or not. If not, a pint is slightly larger. If one is using measurements and comes up with such a problem as "add 300mL of x to y" then it's simple enough to get a measuring cup with both metric and USCS on it. They're actually quite common these days. And I am one of a fairly large group of people (I would guess) in the US who use both and have no problems with it. When I lived in Australia, I did many conversions all the time (all in my head) to figure out what the equivalencies were. Figuring out how much gas cost in USD/gallon was acutally quite quick and easy (for an estimate, anyway) and remembering that you're getting approximately 4 liters to a gallon when buying milk was also no large chore. The problem with saying "you should change" is that you're asking us to do something simply because you don't think it's beneficial for you to have to do the same conversions that we already have to do.
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

Teshi
Posts: 210
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:00 am UTC

Postby Teshi » Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:13 pm UTC

What I don't get is why saying "Five foot Seven" is easier than saying "One hundred and seventy centimeters". I mean, there are a few more syllables, but not much.


It's not necessarily easier to say, it's more meaningful. Measuring big things in tiny units allows for a lot more error in "eyeball" measurement. "1.7 metres" is slightly better, but it has the opposite problem.

I think the reason cling to feet for measuring certain objects is simply because feet are the right size for people.

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:58 pm UTC

Teshi wrote:
What I don't get is why saying "Five foot Seven" is easier than saying "One hundred and seventy centimeters". I mean, there are a few more syllables, but not much.


It's not necessarily easier to say, it's more meaningful. Measuring big things in tiny units allows for a lot more error in "eyeball" measurement. "1.7 metres" is slightly better, but it has the opposite problem.

I think the reason cling to feet for measuring certain objects is simply because feet are the right size for people.


I don't get the meaningful argument. People measure speeds of cars (in metric countries at least) in quantities not much lower than heights, and you don't see people going "120 k/h, how fast is that again?"

Teshi
Posts: 210
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:00 am UTC

Postby Teshi » Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:01 pm UTC

You don't eyeball speed in the same way as you eyeball height.

Of course, I'm just speculating on why certain things persist. I am used to measuring people in feet, so I know how big feet are when put against people.

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:07 pm UTC

Teshi wrote:You don't eyeball speed in the same way as you eyeball height.

Of course, I'm just speculating on why certain things persist. I am used to measuring people in feet, so I know how big feet are when put against people.


From people I've talked to in fully metric countries (Canada's population hasn't gone all the way, which is why I had to look up a metric conversion for my height above) it isn't hard at all. You would just need to be able to eyeball within about ten centemetres anyway, which isn't hard. If you say "he looks to be about 170", and it turns out he's 172 people aren't going to laugh at you.

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:41 pm UTC

Why don't people use decimeters for height? Wouldn't 17 Decimeters be as equally meaningful as 170 centimeters, while adding in the bonus of being easier to eyeball?
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:48 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Why don't people use decimeters for height? Wouldn't 17 Decimeters be as equally meaningful as 170 centimeters, while adding in the bonus of being easier to eyeball?


Wait, why would eyeballing 17 decimetres be any easier than 170 centimetres?

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:51 pm UTC

Factor of scale. For the same reason you eyeball in centimeters and not meters. For the same reason I eyeball small things in inches and large things in feet...

This computer case next to me.. I figure it's about 25 inches high. Not two feet, because the scale's wrong. It'd need to be about three feet before I would eyeball it in feet... because of scale.

Centimeter is too small. Meter is too large. Decimeter is in between... why not use it?
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests