The Metric Philosophers

By The Metric Maven

One Year Anniversary

This is the one year anniversary of The Metric Maven blog. One year ago on π day (2012-03-14) I published my first blog post. At about the same time, I contacted several prominent engineers, scientists and a celebrity chef, hoping for endorsement, or at least comment, on my proposal for a revival of the original Shafroth Bill  for the mandatory metrication of the US. I was looking for people who were well known as effective communicators in science and related fields, and who might have been expected to be sympathetic to metrication, or had made metric-favorable comments in their public venues. These included astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, fellow engineer Bill Nye, and proponent of science in cooking, Alton Brown of Good Eats, and others. I sent requests by e-mail and by USPS.

Now, I was not expecting a 100% response. In fact, I would have been astounded. But the actual response was just as astonishing: deafening silence. Perhaps it was a fool’s errand, but I wanted to try the experiment anyway.

One thing I believe I’ve learned over this year, is there seems to be three vertices to an impossible triangle of US metrication. At one vertex are anti-metric people,  at the second vertex are people who insist they are pro-metric, but never want a law, or compulsory plan, or public funding, or penalties for not using metric, or intervention of any kind. The third vertex consists of those, who, like myself, want metric legislation to press the issue, institute a quick metric changeover, and finally bring the  US into the modern era.

The anti-metric people probably will not change their minds about the issue unless something catastrophic occurs to them personally. Something like a misdosage of medicine is given to a loved one, or themselves, because of the lack of US metrication. Perhaps not even then.

The people who state they are pro-metric but are unwilling to see any legislation mandating metric, despite the clear mandate found in the US Constitution to do so, are the most curious to me. They cite “philosophical reasons” for their resistance to legislation. Every time I hear this from one of these “pro-metric” personages, I can only think of a scene from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Two philosophers show up to stop a computer named Deep Thought from computing the answer to Life The Universe and Everything. Here is the exchange:

“We’ll go on strike!” yelled Vroomfondel.

“That’s right!” agreed Majikthise. “You’ll have a national Philosopher’s strike on your hands!”

As Deep Thought wryly observes:  “Who would that inconvenience?”

These pro-metric “philosophical allies” seem to believe that history does not apply to the enlightened culture in which we live. We apparently have no need for laws against child labor, driving on the wrong side of the road, selling contaminated food, perhaps even murder? Philosophy will eventually vanquish it all. They might object that there is a line, and I’ve crossed it by indicating they would be for repealing laws against murder. I’ve had enough philosophy to identify a (slippery slope) continuum fallacy. How about we move that imaginary philosophical line so that mandatory metric legislation is included in what may be done, somewhere just before murder?

Being of a more empirical and practical bent myself, I see that we’ve had over 150 years of no laws, and also no metrication. That, as Vroomfondel the philosopher argued, “is a solid fact!” So, the plan from these metric advocates is that we continue without a plan and wait
for philosophy  to metricate the US. Could I humbly suggest, that perhaps after 150 years we should try something else? All other countries use metric, with the minor exception of the tiny two, Liberia and Myanmar, and have since the 1970s—you know, back in the 20th century.

The pro-metric philosophers however claim to have a plan, a plan they are sure will work. In their view it’s clearly a problem of product labeling. If we would just allow metric-only product labeling, then suddenly metric only labeled products would flood in from countries all over, business and commerce would suddenly move to all metric. So the problem is we have not “allowed” metric-only labeling in the US? This is asserted even as the same philosophers point out that we already have laws stating that metric is the “preferred” US measurement system. How could I think that we would need anything else beyond a statement to achieve metrication? Perhaps a nice letter, or thinking happy thoughts would be the catalyst that would finally bring metric to the US. When I hear these assertions, how can I not but think of the eloquent philosophers Vroomfondel and Majikthise?

So, how strictly is the US requirement of imperial units along with our “preferred” measurement system enforced? Well, in terms of enforcement, I think it’s probably somewhere just below jaywalking, but possibly above disposing of chewing gum on a public sidewalk.

These days I find more and more metric only labeling on store shelves. For instance, at a local meat market, I purchased French butter, which has proven very good for making cookies. Below is a photo of the dangerous contraband!

The butter lists only grams! and has graduations on the back in 25 gram increments! Worse yet!  It’s all in French! Indeed I had to ask the proprietors if it was butter to be certain. They looked at me as if I was daft and said: “It’s in the butter section, right? Yes, it’s butter.” As most unsalted butter is foil wrapped I could also assume that. Later I spied a sign in the window of my local convenience store advertising one liter bottles of soda, period, no imperial value listed! I observed convenience store non-imperial scofflaws again, during a recent road trip, where 0.5 liter bottled water was advertised on another convenience store window sign. This of course does not violate packaging laws, but does show no one really notices.

I’m then confronted with “Well, see, it’s working, we are right, you’ve made our point.”  Really?

In response to the conjecture by The Metric Philosophers, who believe that passing a law allowing metric only labeling, would bring about metrication in the US, I point out that the requirement for imperial labeling is ineffective, and not enforced. It has probably not been enforced the past, so passing legislation allowing metric only labeling is moot. That I find metric-only examples is seized upon by The Metric Philosophers, as proof metric is springing up all around us and they were right all along! Yet, I see no metrication occurring, and unfortunately observe numerous cases of metric backsliding. Perhaps it would be best if this  group of Metric Philosophers did go on strike.

There is an interesting twist to this “labeling issue”—Australia’s experience. You know, the English speaking country that did change to metric. The country which was poo-pooed in the 1975 US metric hearings. They might have some insight to offer. In his monograph Metrication in Australia, Kevin Wilks offers this assessment:

In hindsight, the early conversion of quantity statements on packaged goods and changes in package sizes had little impact on public education due largely to the universal existence of the supermarket method of marketing, in which packages were selected by the customer by visual size rather than by quantity name in either imperial or metric.

The supermarket proved to be one of the least effective educational tools. A longtime friend, who a couple of years back listened to a few of my conversations about metric, confessed to me not long ago: “I never really looked at the quantity labels in the supermarket until after you talked about them.”  I doubt she still looks at the labels to decide what size she will purchase. Metric Philosophers who believe that allowing metric only labeling will produce a philosophical tsunami which would directly lead the US to metric conversion, should consider looking into the actual experience of other countries before they make such a pronouncement. In the days before supermarkets, when people purchased commodities in bulk quantities, which were only meted out by someone like Sam Drucker,  going to the grocery store might have been more effective and instructive—because there was no pre-packaging..

I would like to believe that the “pro-metric,” anti-legislation cohort of Metric Philosophers is small, but that does not seem to be the case. It appears that pro-metric pro-legislation, pro-funding, pro-active, pro-plan persons like myself are a metrication minority. Like the impossible triangle shown above, none of the three vertices connect, at least not in this world. In my viewpoint, the pro-metric anti-legislation Metric Philosophers are more effective anti-metric apostles than are the passive anti-metric people. These Metric Philosophers seem willing to wait forever, generation after generation for their philosophy to bring metrication to the US. I myself, would like to see it happen during what’s left of my lifetime. In the end, it could be laws that bring metrication to the US, but they might be laws which are penned by the rest of the world, which finally force the issue. This possibility might be smaller than just waiting. Still, I’m sure the metric Vroomfondles and Majikthise in the US would still insist their philosophy would have worked—eventually.

Most of all what I learned during this year, is that there is probably no rational hope that this country will change to metric, perhaps for generations. Mother Jones magazine had an article in January of 1999 called Waits and Measures which invited its readers to “Meet the least powerful men in Washington.” The author was of course speaking of metric advocates. We are identified as the least powerful political lobby. If it’s possible, it appears we have become even less relevant over the last 13 years. The article profiles Jim McCraken who at that time ran the United States Metric Program. Today it appears that this position is held by Elizabeth Gentry. She won an award for her metrication work. The press release states:

• Elizabeth Gentry, NIST, Department of Commerce
Ms. Gentry was selected in recognition of her exceptional leadership as metric program coordinator with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce. Ms. Gentry serves as the nation’s focal point for voluntary conversion to the metric system. She led an effort to persuade states to amend their laws and regulations to permit manufacturers and retailers to voluntarily use metric units on their packaging. At the same time she worked to ensure the laws of other countries to continue allowing current U.S. labeling while the transition occurs.

Indeed, metric in the US is voluntary, voluntary, voluntary. But, what measurement “system” must be ensured and preserved by our government? And backed by the same compulsive laws The Metric Philosophers claim to abhor? Why the farrago of imaginary units used in the US of course—certainly not metric. The Metric Philosophers never seem to object to these laws. Apparently this disused rusting junkyard of units is so important, and sacred, that all other countries must keep living with our Imperial/USC/ACSOWM/IS packaging—forever. Oh, I’m sorry—I mean during the “transition.” This would be the same open ended transition period approved by The Metric Philosophers, during which metrication will be achieved by the vigorous action of Philosophy. Metrication must not be held to any definite time constraint. I guess Tinkerbell would die otherwise. Ms. Gentry’s big metrication accomplishment, for which she received an award, is to try to allow metric only usage on packaging?—I think I’ve made myself clear on the potential effectiveness of that tactic.

I also learned this year that in every era, from John Kasson in the 19th Century until today, the US has such pressing problems, which are so important, that metric should never think itself worthy enough to be on the national agenda–ever! We just can’t fit it in. It’s not a serious issue Very Serious People contend. Congress has more important work to do investigating the use of steroids in sports, and re-naming public buildings.

I’ve written 40 essays, including this one, over the last year. You can imagine my embarrassment at not realizing that I should never have bothered. I should have just waited for The Metric Philosophers to make it all happen, with their efficient and effective inaction and reliance on the certainty of philosophy. I should have just waited at home until Home Depot, Lowes, ACE and TrueValue Hardware stores, suddenly sold millimeter metric only rulers and tape measures, in response to the intense philosophical pressure the Metric Philosopher’s ideas will certainly exert.

Laws, planning, organization and funding have not been tried in the US, but were instituted in Australia, and there, they did make a difference. These policies brought metric to Australia. All they did was alter their existing laws which required the use of imperial to now require metric. Different industries could decide how they would implement metric, but not whether they would. Perhaps we should give it a try here in the US. Perhaps we should adopt a new philosophy?

94 thoughts on “The Metric Philosophers

  1. I point my biggest fingers at the education system in the US (they prefer to teach the complicated side of the ruler) and the media, who scrub the news clean of any metric measurements and jamb in USC measures. I find that most Americans act as if you are working them over with a baseball bat whenever you use any metric measures in conversation.

    My comrades in the Amateur Radio Service here in the U.S. will say “I’ll meet you on 20 meters” but then describe their antennas and feed lines in feet and inches. It is beyond me why, when everything else about radio is metric. Frequency, Power, Voltage, Amperes, Farads, Henrys, Ohms and wavelength among others. Throw in a measurement that’s not related and you’re asking for confusion. Tell me your 10 meter antenna is up 5 meters and I know its up a half wavelength, has a low take off angle and should work well for working DX. Tell me your 40 meter antenna is up 20 feet and I’ll scratch my head and try to figure out it’s takeoff characteristics.

    I don’t want to agree with the Maven and say we’ll never see a metric America in our lifetime, but it does look that way. As long as there are people in this country that want the U.S. back in 1950′s its going to be a tough sell. I say don’t give up.

    • “….and the media, who scrub the news clean of any metric measurements and jamb in USC measures.”

      Not only the news. I read a lot of popular science books, which usually have all the scientific data converted back to USC measurements, even if it was written by a practising scientist. This is particularly annoying because I live in Australia, where we finished our metric conversion so long ago that people have forgotten about it, and I have to try to remember what sizes and weights are when they are expressed in feet and pounds instead of kilos and metres.

      • The simple thing to do is not buy the book. If you did, return it and say you are returning it because it wasn’t metric and you couldn’t follow the story.

        Write to both the author and publisher and complain. Have your family and friends do the same.

        Ifin the future, all books will be electronic, it may make it easier to select the units before you read the first page.

  2. Quoted: “The anti-metric people probably will not change their minds about the issue unless something catastrophic occurs to them personally. Something like a misdosage of medicine is given to a loved one, or themselves, because of the lack of US metrication.”

    So, what would the effect of a misdosage due to decimal point placement error be on the Système International advocate…?

    • That still won’t convince them. They will blame the medical industry for using metric and thus confusing nurses and doctors and insist these things didn’t happen when medicine in the US was done in apothecary units.

    • Re: Opponent of Frog Revolution Measures on 2013/03/14 at
      “So, what would the effect of a misdosage due to decimal point placement error be on the Système International advocate…?”

      The usual, blame the metric system not the person making the mistake.

      • Quoted: “The usual, blame the metric system not the person making the mistake.”

        Hmm, miscalc when using SI: fault of the person. Miscalc when using pre-SI measures: fault of the pre-SI measures. Consistent.

        • Big difference if you haven’t grasped it yet. America compounds that situation x fold with using 2 measurements.

  3. To begin with let’s state the fact that no country on this globe has ever switched voluntarily to the metric system. There are a number of very compelling, but in general irrational reasons for not doing so. Those who think the metric system can be sold to US voters on its merits never ask the crucial question? How does the vast majority of voters get familiar with the advantages of the metric system if they hardly ever come in contact with it? More importantly, given the chance how many of them would familiarise themselves voluntarily with the metric system to see whether it is WORTH VOTING FOR? The resistance to change has more to do with human psychology than democracy. Unfortunately familiarity does not breed contempt, on the contrary, it turns into a habit. It is familiarity that makes hanging onto something good, or bad so compelling. Exacerbating our natural resistance to change is the well-known fact that unlearning something is more difficult than learning something new!
    Add to these formidable barriers to change two other hurdles, patriotism, this is our heritage, and we have already a well working measuring mode, so why waste good money on another one? That scenario guarantees that America will only change to metric if the economic circumstances force it to do so. Common sense seems to be a rare commodity in the land of the free.

    • It should also be noted that no country on the globe freely chose pre-metric units either. All units of measure are in some way forced on people when codified in law. We have to be careful when claiming such as the enemies of metric will use such comments against us. Best just to state that all units of measurement are forced on people but over time the people adjust and begin to accept and defend them against future changes.

  4. I have supported the long-proposed permissive metric-only labeling amendment to the FPLA, but I have never considered it to be the key to U.S. metrication. It would only serve as a sound amidst the deafening silence you have discovered on the subject in most Americans’ minds, which is, to quote my Dad, “I could care less,” His dumb line seems to me to sum up the current citizens’ thinking on metrication.

    The 1971 U.S. Department of Commerce Report, “A Metric America—A Decision Whose Time Has Come,” begins with a letter from former Commerce Secretary Maurice H. Stans outlining a plan for U.S. metrication. I have quoted this letter persistently over the years, but I thought it lacked the psychological approach needed for success. In January, I sat down and rewrote the letter, to read as follows, and, Maven, what surprised the hell out of me is that when I posted this plan on the USMA Listserver, it, too, was met with a deafening silence. Here it is again:

    1) In accordance with its authority Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the Congress shall set a goal of changing the Nation’s standard of weights and measures to the International System of Units (the SI, or the modern metric system). This process is commonly termed metrication.

    2) This goal shall be achieved through a coordinated national program.

    3) To assign the responsibility for effecting this change, the Congress shall empower a central coordinating body responsive to all sectors of American society.

    4) Each sector shall develop its own detailed plans and timetables for the switch to the SI standard.

    5) PRIOR to the start of the changeover, the Nation shall commit itself to educating all of its citizens to think in metric terms.

    6) The Congress, after deciding upon a plan for the Nation, shall establish a target date 10 years ahead, by which date the U.S. will have become predominantly, if not exclusively, metric.

    7) The change shall be accomplished in the spirit of a national compact for U.S. metrication–that is, a firm national commitment to the change, not only by the government but also by the individual sectors of our society, and by the American people. Once the change has started, confidence shall be high there shall be no general reversion to a pre-metric standard.

    • This is exactly what Australia did and America didn’t do. What are the chances that the US will ever admit it was wrong and Australia did it right?

  5. Gosh and golly–I’ve never heard someone raise the argument that the apothecary system was better than the metric system in U.S. healthcare. To those who think that healthcare ever experienced metrication as we discuss it, I have never read of an injectable solution that was designed in grains per quart (grin). It is beyond just being undesirable. It is unusable. In order to be manipulated with the desired accuracy, drug concentrations in medicine, nursing, and pharmacy MUST be decimally designed and MUST use the SI system. Also, one grain, the smallest unit of weight (mass?) in the apothecary system (I have never heard of milligrains or micrograins), is about 65 mg, a “unit” much too large to be practical in handling substances whose effective, i.e., therapeutic, doses are often measured in micrograms. In fact, my point is made by having to define this very issue in metric units only. I could describe it in no other system. Healthcare did not “go” metric. Healthcare seized upon metric as the ONLY possible measurement system in its purview. Yes, there are a handful of old oral drugs that are still breaking away from apothecary units (e.g., dessicated thyroid; phenobarbital), but in recent years phenobarbital has finally gone metric, and dessicated thyroid is still being used only by patients who are stable on it, and the drug entity itself may simply fade out with the measurement system it sports.

    • You obviously haven’t confronted members of the ACWM or BWMA on this issue. It may not be that apothecary are better, they obviously are not or we would still be using them. What is obviously a problem, that allows enemies of the metric system an excuse some justification in attacking metric is that at least under apothecary there was only one system in use.

      Today in the US. medicine is only partially metric. People are still weighed in pounds, over the counter medicine is in ounces. Health care providers in contact with patients don’t use metric. I wonder though if your average nurse would understand metric if requested to use it or speak in it.

      It is this mixture that creates the problems. But the enemies seize this as a fault of metric.

  6. Thanks for the tip of the hat. Never thought we would be linked here. While we enjoy reading your articles here, we think it it taking it a bit far saying that we will converted when we lose a family member to a customary dosing mistake.

    We would like to point out all of the medical overdoses made by a thousand fold confusing “mu” with m. By comparison, a three-fold overdose seems tame.

    Your insistence in using mu is frankly dangerous. At least there is differentiation that is easily seen between mcg and mg.

    By comparison, the apothecary system seems far less error-prone.

    The correct designations for tablespoon and teaspoon are Tbsp and tsp, respectively. The abbreviations you provide are not correct.

    We agree with you that neither the tablespoon nor the teaspoon have any place in medicine. The fluidram is the correct unit for this size category. We see no problem with the grain. The grain used is common to apothecary, avoirdupois, and troy weights. It is not the fault of customary units that the French decided to coin a unit with a similar name.

    The grain is a useful unit *still* encountered in 5 gn. aspirin. To avoid confusion in medicine (although gr. is not a correct abbreviation for gram) it is recommended that “gn.” be used to abbreviate this unit. It would probably be better to use the entire word, or the Latin “granum.”

    • BS pure and simple. If apothecary was so wonderful nobody would have metricated changed from it to metric. The real problem is not completing the conversion and having the industry half-&-half.

      This is another reason America is in decline. They start something, show weakness, then quit half way leaving the job incomplete.

  7. First of all thanks to The Maven for starting this blog one year ago on Pi Day (which I acknowledge elsewhere with a proof of “Buffon’s Needle Problem”).

    My main supplement to “The Metric Philosophers” is to indicate a clear sign SI is part of our Heritage, which will be done by tracing an example through about 40 years.

    In 1969, the first edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language was published, with the Dictionary now in its Fifth Edition. Let’s take a look at an entry in it that must have some sort of linear measurement in it, such as “Mississippi River”:

    First Edition (1969): “…flowing 2,350 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.”
    Third Edition (1992): “…flowing c. 3,781 km (2,350 mi) to the Gulf…”
    Fourth Edition (2000): “…flowing about 3,781 km (2,350 mi) to the Gulf…”
    Fifth Edition (2011): “…flowing about 3,700 km (2,300 mi) to the Gulf…”

    Thus, the AHDEL went from no metric to hard-conversion metric to, now, smart soft-conversion metric.

    And remember, this is the American HERITAGE Dictionary of the English Language, and not one of those “progressive”/descriptive dictionaries…

      • To ACWM Rep:

        Based on your reply to my posting, it appears you don’t know or care about the difference between accuracy and precision…

        • It’s been a long time. The way it was taught to me was a dartboard with darts all near the bull’s eye is accurate, whereas a dartboard with all the darts near each other (not necessarily near the bull’s eye) is precise.

          Since we mentioned neither accuracy, nor precision in our post, and it is perfectly possible to measure a 2300-2400-mi. long river to the nearest one or two miles, we are at a loss as to why you would bring this up.

          Round the km measure to the nearest 10km when converting, sure, but why would the mile figure change?

          • ACWM Rep:

            The “dartboard” way you were taught was a good way but what you give is incomplete as there are four situations, not two. Here they are:

            1. All the darts land close together but away from the bull’s eye: Precise but Not Accurate.
            2. The darts surround the bull’s-eye but are not close to it: Accurate but Not Precise.
            3. The darts are scattered, say, above the bull’s-eye: Not Accurate and Not Precise.
            4. The darts all land on or near the bull’s-eye: Accurate and Precise.

            With respect to what you’ve written afterwards, you seem to be missing the point, namely that the dictionary focuses on accuracy in its entries, not precision. (Accuracy corresponds to correctness whereas precision corresponds to exactness.)

  8. I really don’t want the government telling me what kind of food to eat, what kind of shower-head I have to use, and if I want to stupidly use an inch ruler to sell something to a private individual – that is my natural right. I think it is important that we are free to do stupid things – as it is real force – force to imprison – force to take property (fines) – that the government uses of coerce.

    That being said – there are a couple of assumptions here that are wrong.

    First, the countries that have mandated metric – have not really completed the transition – it takes time even with the use of force. In Europe, they don’t use a 6mm hex drive – it is 1/4″ -hex drive. There is no change in garden hose ends. It would be quite difficult to go through a day without having to use something with an old unit in even in metric Europe.

    Second, things are changing here – not as fast as I would like, but my carpenter works in metric (at least some of the time – and likes it). The metric hardware I can buy at the hardware-store has expanded. We are at the point where I can do my engineering in metric.

    The government does not have to use ‘force’ to move us to metric. As the largest purchases of materials by magnitudes, all they have to do is require metric materials for everything they buy and the change will happen and we will still be free people. They could also stop teaching Imperial units in schools.

    Even if the government outlawed inch rules, searched our houses and confiscated such rulers as contraband, the use of the inch won’t go away overnight. Positive feedback of tradition is a powerful force. People would simply multiply by 16 x 25.4 in order to find where they expect the next stud over. Until every home is worn-out and rebuilt – the stupid inch will remain part of our lives.

    Take the garden hose connector – it is a really bad standard – but because it is in use – people make things that use it and because that is what is available, it reinforces the installation of spigots. As far as I can tell, it is still in use in metric countries and I have not even seen a metric alternative – I don’t think it exists.

    But things do change – slotted screws were the rule when I was a boy – and many people got injured when the tip slipped out. Worker safety came into play and most factories moved to Phillips or torch heads screws. As I scan the pile of equipment on my desk – not a single item has a slotted screw. It did not take the use of force for this change to happen.

    If the government decides it is so smart that it makes decisions for us – it is not a small loss of freedom. It is not rare that the freedom to do stupid things ends up being the freedom to do a smart thing – ( take the governments dietary guideline that have ended up with 40% of the public suffering from type 2 diabetes (likely from the encouragement to eat foods favored by agriculture concerns ) . While I am anxious to see the US move on to metric – I am not interested in encouraging politicians to employ the use of ‘force’ to reach that end. All they have to do is stop buying imperial products and the change would be quite rapid. The institute of standards could quit supporting those old units – tariffs, and other trade regulations should be in metric.

    Freedom is precious. There is the Randian use of the term pragmatism – Where the ends justify the means – and in the end one no longer has any principals as unintended consequences are the rule. ( An example – We now use torture – something that only our enemies did when I was a boy ). Every bit of freedom counts. I want the freedom to do something that others consider stupid – it is my right.

    • It’s not the government that forces you to go metric, its commonsense that makes it imperative. Government only implements it with your and more importantly all future generations welfare in mind. Your attitude is very selfish and dangerous when you state, “I want the freedom to do something that others consider stupid – it is my right”. Now why does that sentence remind me of gun control and especially its opponents? You must consider “stupid idiots” right to bear lethal weapons an inalienable right. In your opinion the rest of the world got it all wrong with strict gun control saving untold lives and grief annually. More surprisingly still their democracies seem to function pretty well. Your attitude, it’s I and I alone who has to be satisfied makes no allowances for anything, but your foibles, and right now it is anti metrication.

  9. Karl: While we reject the notion that using inches is “stupid,” your argument is common sense, and, as such, better than about 95% of this pro-metric vitriol.

    If these people had any idea what the Constitution of the United States of America guaranteed, they’d realize that their proposed actions and “solution” to America’s “problem” is unconstitutional and unenforceable in a country whose judicial system hasn’t been corrupted.

    • Are you telling us Australia and New Zealand are less democratic than America because they adopted the metric system?

      • Imposing an unwanted system is not democratic. If these countries chose to do an end runaround their laws, that is their citizenry’s business.

        We will not do the same here. Freedom of expression is paramount here, and we stand for that.

        • The majority of people in Australia, New Zealand and S.Africa were almost as ignorant as Americans are of the metric system and some did complain about the change, but the majority took it in its stride and adapted very quickly. Now, there is a simple test to prove that all metric countries are happy with the ” enforced” introduction of the metric system. If you can show me one genuine website of a metric country that clamours for the return to medieval feet and thumbs, I retract everything I ever said about the incredible advantages the metric system offers.

          • Americans for Customary Weight and Measure on 2013/03/21 at 2:01 PM said:
            Does that count the UK, South Korea.

            Those countries have never been fully metric, they have the same problem like the US do we /or do we not????
            S. America is a big place and yes you might find countries with remnants of yesteryears anachronism, like in Central America, but as a whole they are fully metric.

            Let me repeat it, show me one site where a metric country/organisation clamours for the return to feet and thumbs.

          • Eric and others,

            Only the US (ACWM) & the UK (BWMA) have an active resistance organization. No one else does. The claim for South america and Korea are vicious lies.

            South Korea finalize the adoption of SI in 2007. Any remnant units are now abolished under law. Before that time, only the don (mass) and yeong (area) were used in limited circumstances. Both are now gone.

            There never were any organized groups in South America opposing metrication and there never will be.

    • The Congress shall have Power To…fix the Standard of Weights and Measures…. — US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 5.

      This was mentioned above, but may have been missed.

      • They DID fix the standards, and you’ll be happy to know they are calibrated in metric units with the use of metric permitted alongside.

        It is not for government to MANDATE or ALTER, it is a democratic process where the majority wins, or at least the majority of American voters. We vote. . .

        • Americans for Customary Weight and Measure on 2013/03/20 at 10:54 AM said:
          “It is not for government to MANDATE or ALTER, it is a democratic process where the majority wins, or at least the majority of American voters. We vote. . .”

          Do yourself a favour and refuse to pay your taxes, or reduce them because you find them too high. When you come back let me know the condition of the jail you have been spending your time in.

          • We pay taxes to Our Government, which is responsible to the needs of its people. They pull a STUNT like in the UK, rest assured, we will engage in acts of civil disobedience. Like assaulting a police officer, selling a pound of bananas, really?

  10. Karl@ ..I don’t reside in the US, so I’m very much outside and looking in regarding metrication in the US.
    1…Metrication is not democratic, but it does not impede on an individuals freedom to choose what type of measurement they should use. Everyone has the freedom to use whatever measurements they choose (metric, USC, ancient Egypitian cubits, whatever) privately and within the confinements of their home. Its when the individual travels out side the home enviroment that one encounters forced measurements. This applies to all types of measurement ( metric, USC, Imperial, time measurement etc) Just as we are forced to drive on the right (or left depending on country) we are forced to learn the measurements we encounter. Forced driving on the right and measurements are undemocratic. We have very little or no choice outside our home enviroment. Sadly those who do not adapt to change are sometime left isolated from the those that do change.
    2…I agree that ..”the countries that have mandated metric – have not really completed the transition”.. All countries, including the US, Liberia, and Mynmar, use the metric measures. For example all countries use the electical metric units volts, amperes, watts, etc. However all countries also use other measurement units which could be Imperial, USC, and other traditional units, or all three. No country is totally metric, and no country is totally any other measurement system. Some USC/Imperial units are a hangover from when the US had more influence in the international community. For example the foot and mile are still used in aviation, and the nautical mile and the knot are still used in the marine sector. Metrication worldwide is a progression, its a transition from other units to metric units. The advancement of metric measures is continuing to move forward slowly in some countries ( in the US) and faster in other countries. It cant be stopped.
    Finally a quote from the late Pat Naughtin who I regard as a international expert in metric matters.
    “No individual, no group, no company, no industry, and no nation, after using the metric system for some time, has ever gone back to using old pre-metric measures”.

    Maybe your carpenter friend is one of the individuals..

      • Do you have proof of this? There were media reports of the possibility of this happening in the UK a few months back, but it never took root. Someone’s obvious wishful thinking.

        Here is how imperial is taught, if it ever is in a metric country.

        When you encounter an imperial unit, multiply it by and get the metric amount. No one is taught to use, just how to change it to a sensible unit.

      • That’s true.. But my comment referred to the metric system, which is calibrated, accepted by local government, accepted by state government, and since the Metric Act of 1866 is accorded legal status within the US. Trading with metric measures whether domestically or internationally is legal in the US.

  11. Listen, driving on the right is a safety issue, USC is not!

    Without a ruler, can you gauge metric accurately? Can we gauge USC? (Well, with our thumbs we were 1/4″ off in 33-5/8?) Nevertheless, measurement is outside of an individual man’s skills. We have to utilize mechanization to achieve it.

    If USC were killing people, maiming people, as your side proclaims, that would be one thing. But moving the decimal point kills people too, and I went to school too long to know that binary is the most efficient means of numeration. Unfortunately, your dogma towards powers of tens has ultimately doomed you. Your devotion to the future has blinded you to the lessons of the past; as a reminder, the “mile” (millus passus) was essentially a metric unit when it was first coined.

    • We don’t use binary, we use decimal. We count with 10 digits, not 2.

      • We count in 12ths and binary fractions. Often these units are encountered in speech and in work every day in the United States.

        We count hours and inches in 12s, seconds in 60s, and fractional units in binary.

        This conversation in its base form consists of all binary counting through computer base programming code.

        So we use, whether you want to believe it or not, Daniel, binary, base eight, base twelve, and base sixteen, base sixty, even in the most metric of nations, in addition to base ten.

  12. ACWM@ ..This is not the forum to discuss the pros and cons of metric or USC. I dont want to take up too much of Metric Maven’s bandwidth. So I will keep my reply as brief as I can.
    Of course driving on the right is a safety issue, but you have ignored the point that I made that it is undemocratic with no option or choice within the law. The same with a 30 mile road sign, its undemocratic there is no options or choices, no duality.
    You seem to think that only USC can be measured with points on the human body. But metric can be also..For example..the average adult man has a foot length of 250 mm. I know that measuring 4 with my foot is about 1000 mm ( 1 meter ) I know also that the width of my hand is 100 mm.
    Its true that using fractions in metric or USC can cause errors, but one of the advantages with metric is to be able to convert from a number with decimal fractions to a whole number. For example ..1.837 m can be converted to .. 1837 mm,.. a whole number that removes the decimal point and the decimal fraction. Its more difficult with USC units.
    I have never seem medication dispensed in fractions of a unit. I have only ever seen whole units like 20 mg or 5 mg or 25 mL.

  13. @eric
    Freedom to do what others deem stupid includes ignoring the food pyramid that has caused a lot of loss of life IMO. It also includes being able to home-school my children ( violates laws in some states – lots of government types call it stupid – yet home-schoolers score over 87 percentile compared to the 50 percentile of kids in government schools ) yet when I saw that children in poor parts of the Philippines were about 2 years ahead in math – I did home-school my kids – and they now have skills that are of value. I am really glad I was free to do something stupid (at least in Kansas ).

    Eric said “Are you telling us Australia and New Zealand are less democratic than America…”

    Yes – lets say less free – but the US is on a rapid path of giving up our freedom as well – and the economic consequences have already started..

    As far as trade standards – I’m all for metric only.

    Let me point out that I am strongly pro metric. It is all I use in my design work other than converting out of legacy units. The point I want to make is for the government to ‘impose’ metric on free individuals takes away freedom. The trend of the government to use ever more force needs to be resisted at every front – freedoms almost never are returned once taken.

    What is missing is leadership – if the government was specifying all it’s purchases in metric, all it’s design work in metric, all education in metric there would be no need to use force. If the military-federal aided public works, federal agencies etc.. offered bids on flour in kilo packaging, bought only metric fasteners for construction, metric lengths of lumber, concrete specified in metric crush strength, distances and speed limits postings, – the change would accelerate and become quite rapid. There simply is no need to use force.

    It is also important to realize that some changes just don’t make sense. To replace all of the railroad track with meter gage just isn’t worth it – it is much better to just change the units used in specifying a standard rounding to a near unit. Again, the metrication of other countries is overstated – only 95,000km of the worlds railroad track uses a metric standard track gage.

    We should simply start calling them 6.35mm hex drive screwdriver bits and not force a change to 7mm.

    BTW I would love to see a robust metric standard for a garden hose connector – I actually bought some of these –
    but they leaked badly after just a year of use.

    One aside – I ran into a pigheaded bolt on some UPS battery connections – the thread was metric – but the heads were not! never saw that before. I had to get out the micrometer to be sure.


    In thinking about what possible advantage the inch and it’s fractions could offer – I came up with a single advantage – the constant use of fractions might help develop math skills. Still, It is still quite stupid to use inches.

    • There is a very fine line between freedom and anarchy. What you may call freedom is borderline anarchy. Without laws, common language, common measurements that every citizen is required to use, you don’t have freedom but lawlessness and lawlessness eventually makes you less free, weak and eventually destitute.

      Look at America today! Is it a free country or is it a lawless country?

      • If anything we are moving in the opposite direction of anarchy to a police state without due process of law, although that is besides the point.

        When your arguments are refuted, you make fantastic claims about America; do you know the meaning of the word “anarchy?” Look it up. . .

  14. Thank you, Metric Maven, for another informative atriicle. Keep up the good work. I am sure that there are many hidden readers out there, on the web, that read your articles, but do not respond with comments, because they are generally in agreement with them.
    I’m one of the converted, having learnt Imperial measures during my childhood, and then converting to metric measures in my mid twenties, when my country officially adopted the metric system, as its system of weights and measures. In both Australia and New Zealand the change to metric measures although forced was positively accepted by Government, business, commerce, industry, military, media, schools, and by the vast majority of the population at that time. Metrication had been preceded by conversion to decimal currency, and most people accepted the change in currency because it was easier and simple. They rightly thought that metrication would also bring similar benefits. Metrication was also seen as modenising the counrty and was occuring in many other countries including the UK, the US, South Africa, at that time. Only in the US and to a lesser degree the UK has metrication stalled. But it has not stopped. It contunes worldwide including the US and the UK, where it is slow but advancing.
    Metrication is not something that occurs over a short term. Its been said, and I think its true, that “its more difficult to unlearn something, than what it is to learn something new” Therefore metrication must start in the schools (elementary schools) where metric measures should be taught as the primary system of measurement and USC taught later as conversion from metric.
    It will take the US many years to metricate, and I have no doubt that it will happen. When will it happen? It will happen when everbody uses it and they will do so willingly.

  15. Karl Schmidt on 2013/03/17
    Freedom to do what others deem stupid includes ignoring the food pyramid that has caused a lot of loss of life IMO. It also includes being able to home-school my children ( violates laws in some states – lots of government types call it stupid – yet home-schoolers score over 87 percentile compared to the 50 percentile of kids in government schools ) yet when I saw that children in poor parts of the Philippines were about 2 years ahead in math – I did home-school my kids – and they now have skills that are of value. I am really glad I was free to do something stupid (at least in Kansas ).
    Eric said “Are you telling us Australia and New Zealand are less democratic than America…”

    Oh, you do live a in a simple world? I am not sure what you want to bring across with “ignoring the food pyramid that has caused a lot of loss of life IMO.” As far as I am concerned strict government regulation of food products keeps you and a hell of a lot people healthy and even alive. Interestingly America is now following very strict EU standards when it comes to food safety.
    I have no problems with home schooling, but there may be other reasons for parental concerns?
    Maybe the reason home-taught children do better is that government schools are not up to scratch, short of money, because the taxpayers refuse to pay decent taxes to employ competent teachers? No right to discipline disruptive children because it impinges on their freedom /human rights? And the list goes on.
    As to Philippine children being ahead in maths, British and US studies have shown long ago that metric educated children are usually one year ahead in maths. Stands to reason, they do not have to waste precious time remembering an incoherent and arbitrary Hodge-Podge of numbers.
    Re; Australians and New Zealanders!
    As to, “ Yes – lets say less free – but the US is on a rapid path of giving up our freedom as well – and the economic consequences have already started.”
    That depends on what you consider freedom? Most Australians and New-Zealanders value the “freedom from constantly worrying” about sending their children to school knowing there could be one day a gun toting idiot killing them, or their parents/ children at a movie theatre and so on. What an ongoing nightmare just to satisfy some never grown up adults wishes/freedoms.

    As to Americas economic decline, that has started about 38 years ago and was one of the main reasons why metrication was considered necessary in 1975. Japan and Germany ran incredible trade surplusses and still do thanks to America’s freedom loving inch nuts. Have a look at your ongoing external trade deficits since then! This is the only reality everything else is political spin.

  16. Maven,
    Another excellent article!

    Concerning said freedom;
    While driving home last Thursday night and I was pulled over by a State Patrol Officer, for inadvertently not dimming my high brights. I will confess it to be true because I was in deep discussion with my passenger and was not paying attention. Fortunately, I was wearing my seat belt and ALL of my ‘papers’ were in order…Drivers license, insurance statement, title, & registration. After a lecture, and answering several questions such as… Where are you going? Where have you been? Who is that with you? Where do you work? Why are you wearing a suit and tie? I was finally let off with a warning…
    (btw, I live in the USA)

    Said “Freedom” is a matter of perspective. Maven makes some excellent points and I refuse to be a “slave” to stupid traditions


    • You don’t have to answer any of those questions. You CHOSE to. You can exercise your right to remain silent or ask for an attorney at any time.

      Just because you give an example where an individual chose to ignore those freedoms and you didn’t do anything about it, does not in any way refute what is written in our constitution and codified in our laws.

      This may be a tired cliche, but freedom isn’t free. . .

      • I was pulled over last night. Without an identification of any kind (lost mine in January) and out of state, I expressed to the police that they couldn’t search my car, they weren’t intimidating me (though they were acting like the football players in HS, hazing me), and that, if they were going to arrest me, they had to tell me the truth about why they pulled me over. Without running my license (they “didn’t have a computer” were probably looking for drug dealers) they let me go.

      • And if you don’t answer any of those questions they can and will find something to charge you with. In your case, they would drag you out of your car, throw you against the vehicle, search you and arrest you for resisting. You will then have to hire a lawyer at your expense and sue in court to try to prove you did nothing wrong.

        It is just better to answer their questions, say Thank You officer when he doesn’t give you a ticket and drive off being thankful it ended in your favour.

  17. @eric Said
    “I am not sure what you want to bring across with “ignoring the food pyramid that has caused a lot of loss of life IMO.”

    This is not the right place – but very briefly – the government has instituted policies encouraging people to avoid saturated fats – replacing them with large amounts of carbohydrates and PUFAs without hard science. Newer high quality research shows that the PUFA (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids ) producing inappropriate insulin sensitivity – which causes weight gain ( insulin controls the net flow of fats into adipose tissue). We now have a pandemic of type II diabetes and the resulting body count. Of course we are not supposed to see the political pressure the agricultural concerns exerted that perverted the science.

    Why is it assumed that people in government – with their political self interest, are somehow nobler and smarter than the public? If you think the people in government care about you, are surrogate parents, and are there to protect you over their own self interests, you may want to reconsider.

    I want metrication – without force – The government is not doing even half of what it could without force to change our units – why not make those changes first and see what happens? The loss of freedom is almost always a one-way street.

  18. Karl:
    “Why is it assumed that people in government – with their political self interest, are somehow nobler and smarter than the public”?

    “Why is it assumed that people in government – with their political self interest, are somehow nobler and smarter than the public”?

    Nobody assumes that, we have elections to show whether they are smart, or stupid. This is much more a question of ideology than stupidity. Countries can be run to the advantage of many, Europe, Australia, new Zealand, or the detrement of many, America. It is here where you and your friends’ arguments about personal freedom and metrication turn into a joke. America’s wealth distribution is skewed to the point that Europeans would be up in arms and hanging those bastards and you people let it meekly happen, nay try to vote them into power!!!! The top 1% in your country owns 43% of Americas financial wealth, 4% own 29 %, 15 % own 21% and 80% share 7%! Sorry to say so, but you are idiots if you believe to live in a democracy. Maybe its time for you people to introduce it? If nothing else it reveals the gullibility of FREEDOM LOVING AMERICANS.

    • Well, it isn’t a pure Democracy. It is a Democratic Republic.

      This is really outside of our realm, wealth distribution. Speaking of “wasting bandwidth.” What we passionately object to is the notion that USC is in any way responsible for any of this.

      Sometimes you will see me personally comment on something and say that it isn’t the stance of our organization, because the purpose of our organization is simply to promote Customary Weight and Measure, primarily in America, but also with support to other countries abroad that retain them and celebrate them.

      Honestly, dealing with wealth disparity is far more important than USC, or SI and we really resent those that think eliminating it will magically fix these very real and complicated problems facing Americans today.

      Again this is not the comment of our organization but myself; I would LOVE to give you idiots a year to mess with the US economy trying to tear up and mess up the established infrastructure and see what the economic impact is.

      • Nobody said you are responsible for those dreadful numbers. My point was that you waste your time and energy on the wrong subject. You should be up in arms and restore Democracy and decency in your country instead of holding it back with outdated measurements.
        As to idiots, the world thinks otherwise 94 % are pro metric and if we stretch it maybe six benighted % are anti. Beats me how you managed to get it so wrong.

        • If there weren’t so many people attacking our system, I wouldn’t have to spend any time working for Americans for Customary Weight and Measure.

          In fact, our organization probably wouldn’t even exist were it not for these persistent, incessant attacks on our system that go back to our country’s very beginning.

          You’re right there are better things to do. Just because I am active here doesn’t mean this is the limits of my involvement with politics and law and justice.

          However, with the exception of our support for freedom, our organization’s sole purpose is in its support of Customary Weight and Measure. Any comment outside of this field is off the topic of our organization. As such, it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss it here.

          I will occasionally inject my own comments here, but when I do say, I say as much.

          • You also say that USC is in no way responsible for our wage disparities, but then say

            “You should be up in arms and restore Democracy and decency in your country instead of holding it back with outdated measurements.”

            You are contradicting yourself, saying that USC isn’t responsible for this countries woes, but then turning about and saying that USC is holding this country back.

            Our argument remains that USC is not holding this country back. USC was there in this country’s finest hour, our landing on the moon, whereas meters and klicks were used in one of this country’s worst episodes, the Vietnam Conflict.

            Neither system is responsible for either success, hard work and the all-important “$” unit (US) is. This change would be disruptive and distracting from those other two factors, which are of paramount importance to this country and its future.

  19. As the ACWM rep perhaps needs a little primer, let me give it to him/her:

    Measurements in SI in “Customary”
    Length one many
    Mass/Weight one many

    Overall, in a nutshell: SI = Coherence and Customary = Incoherence
    As a result, not too many Americans know the customary system sufficiently well…or care to…

    • Let me try this again:

      As the ACWM rep perhaps needs a little primer, let me give it to him/her:

      Measurements —– in SI —– in “Customary”

      Overall, in a nutshell: SI = Coherence and Customary = Incoherence
      As a result, not too many Americans know the customary system sufficiently well…or care to…

      • The Head and the Heart.

        When changing behavior, both thinking and feeling are essential, and a process of change must happen that uses both the head and the heart.
        People change what they do LESS, because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking, than because they are shown a truth that influences their feeling.
        In other words convincing someone to change using logic, (the head), has less effect than convincing someone to change using feeliings (the heart).

        There is no doubt, that when convincing someone that metric is more simple, and logical, and therefore better, than UCS/Imperial, then metric wins. Thats using the head.
        However thats not even half the war won, because that same someone, must be convinced that they feel better, about metric than what they feel about USC/Imperial.
        As an example ..In the UK the anti metric groups, knew that they could not counter the simplicity, and logic, of the metric system. (the head argument). So they turned to using feelings, and emotion, to counter metric. (the heart argument), They did this by convicing people, that the metric system was anti British, (which its not), and linking it to the French, (there has always been an underlying English distrust of the French) and linking it to the unpopular EU.

        Over the last 150 years, the US Government and US organisations, have had a substancial involment, in the development of the metric system. American scientists Nikola Tesla, and Joseph Henry, were involved in its development. Arguably the US has been involed more in metric system development, than in USC development, that has remained static. In the US people need to be inspired with feeling, that the metric system is at least partially American, and more American than those Roman and Saxon units of measure, than Britain discarded on its shores.

        • I admire your magnanimity, but it needs some corrections. America contributed zilch to the metric system on the contrary it tried to foist its measurement anachronism onto the world after 1945 when it advocated that the UN should use their medieval mess. Luckily the world stood up that impertinence and demanded metric measurements. What they did achieve was to force the then 76% metric world to fly in feet and thumbs. USC is a pain in the neck in science that’s why scientists adopted the metric system.

          • They fly in feet, pounds, and nautical miles. Sorry, no thumbs! The thumb is not a unit of measurement, although etymologically, the word for thumb means “inch” in many languages. The word “inch” is a corruption of the Latin “uncia” which means twelfth, so does “ounce.”

        • All of our arguments are based upon the heart, convenience, tradition, history, and common sense.

          Our units deserve continued legal protection as they are what our populace is ACCUSTOMED to. We do not seek to foist our system on the rest of the world, as the poster below states, but note that they have adopted it, generally without any imposition on our part, when it suits their needs.

          They work, and they work very well. They have been where no other units have taken man; they have touched the face of the Moon and brought us back home again. They helped man venture into the sky under his own power for the first time. They are woven into our very environment and help us define our world. They ventured into the stars after traveling one pace at a time from Ancient Rome, and one fathom at a time across the Atlantic.

          • To explain why you stick to your medieval anachronism, you should put the emphasis in this order, heart PATRIOTISM, TRADITION and the most important one FAMILIARITY. All others, I am sorry to say make no sense. Yes, you did foist your Hodge podge of units onto a predominantly metric flying world.
            As to the the rockets that got you to the moon and wherever they were designed in metric units by Werner von Braun, a German and his group that build the V-I and V-II rockets. America hijacked that lot before the Russian could get their hands on them after WWII and I am sure they were grateful for that.
            No, your hodge podge does not work very well, US school children lag one year in maths compared to their metric peers, and American Scientists have to use metric in science because your anachronism is a pain in the neck in that discipline. So, please stick to reality, not wishful phantasy thank you.

  20. ACWM – bizarre..

    I think it is clear to look at the motivation – my take was that the resistance came as a form of protectionism. (IMO protectionism is immoral. ) Of course it failed long-term. ( Not that Europe hasn’t tried to use standards to restrict trade as well. )

    I am amazed at both sides of this debate – the pessimism of the pro-metric folks – apparently blind to the fact that we ARE going metric ( perhaps differently than other countries – slowly – then all at once ). Seemingly unaware that the so-called metric-nations have lots of customary standards they have yet to be rid of.

    The metric hardware selection at the hardware store keeps expanding – metric sizes are worming their way into every bit of our lives – too slow? Yes. But perhaps the US has done it better – in part – by not being officious. ( The government procurement of materials is another story.)

    I talked to my brother the other day – he is a Boeing engineer and I asked if they had moved into the modern world of working in metric – with more than a little embarrassment he said the had not – yet they do use decimal inch – so a move to metric is closer. It is not without cost that the aircraft industry has failed to move –

    If our government was ordering metric aircraft for the military – the move would be rapid.

    And that someone would want their name associated with “Americans for Customary Weight and Measure” is simply bizarre. Sort of like belonging to the flat earth society.

    • Karl Schmidt:
      “And that someone would want their name associated with “Americans for Customary Weight and Measure” is simply bizarre. Sort of like belonging to the flat earth society.”

      I definitely agree, could not have put it better, thanks.

        • We checked out the “Flat Earth Society.” That is really God-damned insulting, likening us to a collection of conspiracy theorists and people who believe the moon landings, USC’s finest hour, were faked.

          Just because we vehemently oppose your fascist ideals for the United States doesn’t mean you need to liken us to people that qutie probably need to be put in a nuthouse.

  21. Americans for Customary Weight and Measure on 2013/03/24 at 2:10 PM said:
    “You also say that USC is in no way responsible for our wage disparities, but then say ”

    This is what I wrote:
    Eric on 2013/03/22 at 9:48 PM said:
    Nobody said you are responsible for those dreadful numbers.

    At no time did I say USC is not responsible. Look at your astronomical external trade deficits for the last 38 years and then tell me why you struggle to sell anything to a metric world?

    As to America forcing the rest of the world to use their feet and thumbs. US companies sold their software only in thumbs and feet to begin with, till competition forced them to incorporate metric units. As to television screens being given in inches, the world can thank America’s lackeys Japan and S.Korea for this idiocy. Luckily metric China
    stopped that nonsense and produces them in mm that are sloppily converted into inches for the backward ones.

    • Japanese and Korean industry produce “inch-sized” TVs in round mms, with Metric tolerances. That they’re not off by more than half an inch probably speaks to their quality control and trade standards than to anything else. . .

      • I am not so sure with S. Korea having adopted the metric system in 1961 with little progress till recently.
        As to Japan, America was their biggest market in the beginning and that unfortunately dictated the units.

        • Boy, customary units have sure held Japan and S. Korea back! Look what doldrums their economies are in compared with metric powerhouses like N. Korea, Russia, firm believers in absolute adherence to the metric system from their bloody starts!

          • Honestly you are rather pathetic. Japan has never recovered from the real Estate bubble in the 1990′s. What you see today is an illusion. For years, the world’s third-largest economy has been unapologetically living on borrowed cash, more so than any other country in the world. In recent decades, Japanese governments have piled up debts worth some €11 trillion ($14.6 trillion). This corresponds to 230 percent of annual gross domestic product, a debt level that is far higher than Greece’s 165 percent.
            As to South Korea, its export industry was with some exception fully metric.
            Blaming the metric system for Russia’s mismanagement is not very intelligent. Yet, it is intelligent applied America’s dismal economic state based to a great extent on feet and thumbs the world is not interested in.
            So, please get you facts right before talking nonsense. You could have munitioned Germany, Sweden, Norway, Austria and even Brazil to name some metric countries doing a hell of a lot better than Japan. By the way Japan also contributed a quite a lot of thumbs and feet stuff to the Boeing 787 debacle.

          • That last post was (should have been) obviously jest.

            You see, we are bombarded with claims of how the metric system will be this country’s magic elixir, yet when we point out evidence to how there’s no real correlation, you site it as a ridiculous example.

  22. As to evidence that metric would be a panacea for America if it isn’t botched as so many other things are in the US, all you have to do is look at your astronomical external trade deficits since about 1970. Then go on and look at the studies Richard Phelps did many year ago about the disadvantages of teaching USC compared to simple metric. Countries with a healthy economy have trade surpluses, or trade evenly like China with Germany. Compare that to your totally lopsided trade with metric China. As of 2013 your trade deficit with China is a staggering $1.264 trillion, 23% of the total US public debt. Since then it got probably worse.
    Let me add something else: No matter how much evidence there is about the advantages of the metric system, people of your ilk only see what their impaired minds want to see. That mindset has nothing to do with reality, but everything with misguided patriotism, my country right, or wrong. Have fun!

    The online version of this article can be found: R. Phelps

      • So going metric is going to suddenly fix America’s trade deficit? It won’t raise the cost of doing business and open up America more to a cheap flood of metric imports?

        As always unrealistic, uninformed and smug! What nonsense, you are already swamped by cheap metric Chinese goods that are roughly turned into feet and thumbs.
        Yes, change to metric does cost money in the short term, but pays dividends forever thereafter. Besides you need work for your unemployed lot, don’t you? What a god sent opportunity to replace your decaying infrastructure in modern measurements.

          • Why would anyone to go back to feet and thumbs? Let me repeat it, their goods are manufactured in metric and then dumbed down to inches for the last lot on this globe that can’t get its act together. Not only that, you haven’t got the money everything is bought on credit. “

  23. MM:

    BTW, good “photo of” an Escher-like configuration at the start!…