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Why we wont kill the Imperial System
Mobile Hydraulic Tips ^ | November 2, 2012 | Paul Heney

Posted on 11/05/2012 2:14:59 PM PST by null and void

Back in grade school, we were told that the Imperial System was a thing of the past, that eventually we’d be living the Metric System life, with all it’s base-10 logic built right in. We’d be just like the rest of the world. But those predictions have proven about as accurate as the flying cars and moon colonies that we all imagined we’d be enjoying in the year 2012.

Occasionally, the issue bubbles up and people argue back and forth about why we haven’t gone Metric, but I think it’s all about inertia. There would be a huge intellectual cost in moving to a new system—training ourselves to think of temperatures in Celsius when we’re leaving home and trying to decide on whether to grab a jacket. Straining to remember what kilometers per liter really comes down to, when we’re used to a lifetime of miles per gallon. Attempting to determine whether you’re losing enough weight, as you stare at the scale showing a strange number of kilograms.

While there are economic costs—heck, just think of the signage issues on our roads—they should be lower today than they would have been a generation ago. Many consumer products in this digital age already allow us to toggle between Imperial and Metric units. And the prevalence of smartphones means that no one has an excuse not to have a conversion app (or at least a calculator) on them at virtually all times.

What this issue comes down to is, as I said, inertia. It’s laziness. No one wants to be the generation that has to juggle two systems in their heads all the time. If we switched today, my kids would grow up pretty much thinking in Metric and would have no problem. But I feel like I’d forever be doing that calculation in my head. Even if I knew 28° C was a nice warm summer day, I think I’d always be converting it back to 82° F just to make sure I knew exactly how warm it was, based on my past experiences. We don’t want to be the ones straddling the two worlds, dealing with parts in both sizes or wondering how to deal with machinery that still had Imperial components that were no longer allowed to be manufactured.

Besides, who has the guts to push an idea like this forward in the country today? If Republicans championed the cause, Democrats would rail against it. And vice versa. And unfortunately, engineers, scientists and the like don’t have the kind of lobby that would be needed to get politicians interested. Even a public relations disaster like losing the Mars Climate Orbiter (due to a conversion mishap) didn’t move the needle on fully switching to Metric. So I guess I’ll just wait with you for that long-off day when we get the first flying car—and wonder what kind of miles per gallon that thing will get.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
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I find your lack of faith...disturbing...

1 posted on 11/05/2012 2:15:03 PM PST by null and void
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To: null and void

I think the Canadians have been on the metric system for decades. A couple months ago we visited up there, everyone we talked to talked in miles, feet, pounds.

I don’t think the metric system took very well up there.


2 posted on 11/05/2012 2:20:59 PM PST by redfreedom
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To: null and void
When it comes to using units of mass, the English system has some serious problems.

Volume? Area? Distance? Density? Temperature? Speed? ; I'm good with the current system.

3 posted on 11/05/2012 2:22:35 PM PST by Paladin2 (Posting a response is still an issue.....)
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To: null and void

Americans do not use the Imperial System, they use the US Customary Unit System. The Imperial System did not come into being until 1824 and the Americans, for obvious reasons, did not adopt it...


4 posted on 11/05/2012 2:23:53 PM PST by sinsofsolarempirefan
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To: null and void

The wife recently converted to the metric system .. her concealed went from a .380 to a 9mm.


5 posted on 11/05/2012 2:24:57 PM PST by tx_eggman (Liberalism is only possible in that moment when a man chooses Barabas over Christ.)
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To: null and void
Who would ever want to write a song or poem including metric? Will never happen!

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And kilometers to go before I sleep, And kilometers to go before I sleep.

Ughh!

6 posted on 11/05/2012 2:25:55 PM PST by PGR88
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To: null and void

I kind of like our system -— it sets us apart, makes us unique. Of course, it also means that american vehicles, machinery, etc is a less competitive export because foreign buyers also need to purchase american tools to service them.


7 posted on 11/05/2012 2:26:23 PM PST by Wyrd bi ful ard
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To: null and void
I remember those days in grade school. When I started first grade in 1973, we had centimeter strips that took us all the way to fifth or sixth grade. Back about 1978/79, I remember PSA's on NBC on the metric system called "Metric Marvels" and of course "The Weekly Reader" was all over it.

Metric Marvels on NBC, circa 1978/79
8 posted on 11/05/2012 2:27:32 PM PST by Nowhere Man (Whitey, I miss you so much. Take care, pretty girl. (4-15-2001 - 10-12-2012))
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To: tx_eggman

No, it went to a 9mm “Kurz” as opposed to a 9mm Luger or Parabellum. Big difference.


9 posted on 11/05/2012 2:28:06 PM PST by 353FMG (The US Constitution is only as effective as those who enforce it.)
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To: null and void
We don’t want to be the ones straddling the two worlds

All the cool countries use metric so we should too. I grew up in the metric push in the 1970s, but most of that for every day measurements has disappeared except through conversion. But because of work some very small measurements are natural for me in metric and the equivalent imperial measurements are the ones I have to convert to use. I think in miles, feet, inches, millimeters, microns and nanometers.

Interestingly, one of the few enumerated powers the federal government that have been explicitly enumerated in Article I, Section 8 is "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;" The government could state that all legal measurements are in metric and outlaw gallons, pounds, feet and acres as legal measurements in commerce.

10 posted on 11/05/2012 2:28:17 PM PST by KarlInOhio (Big Bird is a brood parasite: laid in our nest 43 years ago and we are still feeding him.)
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To: null and void
While the US may be inching toward the metric system, we've got miles to go. :=)
11 posted on 11/05/2012 2:29:14 PM PST by Bob
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To: null and void

A lot of the “less painful” conversions to metric have already taken (and/or are taking) place—specifically things such as parts, metric sized bolts, screws, liter bottles of soft drinks, etc. Those types of transitions will continue almost “under the radar”. The more “painful” transitions such as driving distance might not take place in our lifetimes.


12 posted on 11/05/2012 2:29:48 PM PST by House Atreides
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To: null and void

If I were paying $3.50 per Imp. Gal. for gasoline, I wouldn’t feel as bad as I do...


13 posted on 11/05/2012 2:31:07 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: Wyrd bið ful aræd

I think the Ford Pinto was designed using the metric system, at least the engine was.


14 posted on 11/05/2012 2:31:18 PM PST by Nowhere Man (Whitey, I miss you so much. Take care, pretty girl. (4-15-2001 - 10-12-2012))
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To: redfreedom

The United States has been officially under the metric system since 1893. All our fundamental units are defined by metric system units.

It hasn’t ‘taken’ very well here either...


15 posted on 11/05/2012 2:31:20 PM PST by null and void (Day 1385 of the Obama hostage crisis - Barack Hussein Obama an enemy BOTH foreign AND domestic)
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To: null and void

Most American Companies worth a damn are metric capable. The have systems that convert back and forth at will.

Americans plagued with unions are the ones at risk of being noncompetative because the unions won’t change.

I personally use only the metric system in my daily work. It is better, it is easier.


16 posted on 11/05/2012 2:31:41 PM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
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To: redfreedom

The metric system is already used extensively in the American engineering profession — in fact, more so than the Imperial system.


17 posted on 11/05/2012 2:31:48 PM PST by 353FMG (The US Constitution is only as effective as those who enforce it.)
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To: redfreedom

It took off fine up here. Canadians are equally comfortable using both systems. We’ve had it for abou thirty years.


18 posted on 11/05/2012 2:33:20 PM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: null and void

It’s not laziness so much as understanding there’s no gain for all that work. Metric might be better for scientists, but for normal people both systems are equal, whatever you know is good enough. If you grew up in imperial you know 100 degrees is hot, if you grew up in metric you know 37 is hot, there’s nothing to be gained in retraining.


19 posted on 11/05/2012 2:33:48 PM PST by discostu (Not a part of anyone's well oiled machine.)
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To: KarlInOhio
I think in miles, feet, inches, millimeters, microns and nanometers.

Add Mocrons and Ångstroms and I'm right there with you...

20 posted on 11/05/2012 2:35:32 PM PST by null and void (Day 1385 of the Obama hostage crisis - Barack Hussein Obama an enemy BOTH foreign AND domestic)
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