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A Measurement Of Greatness



Ok, it's time for a rant. I've been bike riding lately and when I tell my USA friends I've gone 75 km, they are all like "What? Speak English." Or ask to have me convert it or some other form of complaint.

Americans’ pride has led them to believe that since they are number 1 (no idea about what that still applies to), they can shun the most widely used system of measurement. I was just a kid when president Jimmy Carter tried to get the US to convert. Overnight there was a change in the fuel price and it had looked like it had dropped to about 3/4 the previous price. People lined up at the pumps thinking an error had been made and it was time to fill up before the gas companies realised the mistake. Then they got to the counter to pay and the cost was about the same as it had been to fill up all those times before and people were baffled. It was because the new measurement was in liters. People freaked the hell out. This was change! We don't like change.
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Typical American response

So who is really using the imperial system? Surely America isn't alone, right? Well, that's sorta true. America isn't alone in using the imperial system.
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See, Libya and Myanmar (previously Burma) also are using it, although both sets of government have announced that they are in the process of converting to metric. Besides, I'd not exactly consider that a strong argument to keep to a system that’s simply harder to use. Find that comment difficult to believe?

Try this: what's a half mile in yards? I'd bet a great portion of the world would have to look up how many yards are in a mile. Hell, I don't know. Ok now try this, how many meters (m) are in half a kilometer (km)? See the ‘k’ should give that away easy. K = 1000, just like how we called it Y2k for the year 2000. In other words, 1 km = 1000 m. So half is 500 meters. So simple a child can do. Still not buying it? Race someone to find 1 tenth of a mile in yards versus 1 tenth of a kilometer in meters, and then try 8 tenths and so on. Imperial loses every time. Here, watch this:


Besides, in this global economy, the US is losing out on opportunities due to its workforce not knowing metric. That's not to mention the cost of manufacturers having to make two sets of products, one for the local market and one for the export market. For example, we have things like Listerine, Tide laundry soap, and a ton more. Heck, America took on the 2-liter sodas. Don't you think that might be a sign that the soda companies were tired of the expense of making separate packaging?

Ok, here is another diagram to help you make sense of the differences.
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Oh and watch this:


So did you catch that bit about the imperial weight being based off the metric system? So ya, what's the excuse to not change? Yes, there were be some cost in the process of conversion. Like replacing road signs, for instance, but cars in the US currently measure in both kilometers and miles and besides, those manufacturers have been making models of cars for overseas so the next model made just leaving off the Mph wouldn't be some big deal. Other changes could be as simple as the next time your furnace was replaced to change the thermostat. It's simple and let’s face it, it's about time.

So next time you hear me speak of the weather here in Singapore or the distance of my walk or bike ride, you can expect it to be done in what the world uses, not what three odd countries are still clinging to (especially considering that the two third-world countries in those three are already converting).

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My expected American response…

To find the cost of this clinging to an outdated system, I suggest you check out this by Pat Naughtin.


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