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June 10, 2015

The metric system is sinful


The metric system is sinful in the same way as any decimation, but right across the board.
It removes all the benchmarks. Common speech recalls them in antiquated terms: we still do not say, “give him 2.54 centimetres and he will take 1.609 kilometres,” although my subeditors would sometimes make such changes to my copy, in the bad old days, out of their zeal to dehumanize. (Later, they couldn’t care.)
To my mind, it was interesting that long-established and much adored English measures could be easily translated into any other language, ancient or modern; and vice versa. This is because, before metrication, the “concept” of the inch or dactyl; of the palm, foot, cubit, yard, fathom; of the ounce and pound — were truly universal. God made us with feet and arms, hands, fingers, and heads — not only in England. And measures of area and volume developed just where these units intersected — a “pound,” for instance, being the cube of a hand’s breadth, in the weight of water. (And condensed into a stone, “just right” for tossing at a commie.) De-metrification : Essays in Idleness

Posted by gerardvanderleun at June 10, 2015 1:21 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

The metric system is simply one more manifestation of European Colonialism riding roughshod over local culture.

Posted by: tscottme [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2015 1:11 PM

This is an amazing essay. Thanks.

Posted by: Leslie [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2015 1:54 PM

Sorry guys, but Warrens romanticism won't cut it. The industrial revolution, for which we should be infinitely thankful, depends on the ability of manufacturers to build things to specification in quantity. That requires measurements. Tiny and precise. Measurements must be the same everywhere all over worldwide supply chains.

The traditional units used in the US are hardly a system. E.g. there are two definitions of an inch which differ about two parts per million. Good enough for horseshoes or hand grenades, useless for jet engines and nuclear reactors.

The pint may be a pound in the US, but it isn't in Britain, where the pint is about 5% larger than it is in the US. And so on und so weiter.

At this point, US customary units are doomed. They have no audience outside the US. Inside the US, customary units are giving way, industry by industry. Medicine and the Military are SI. So is laboratory science.

Posted by: Fat Man [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2015 1:59 PM

There are two kinds of America -

One that landed on the moon, and one where a significant issue for its "educated" youth is "trigger warnings".

Posted by: Andrew X [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2015 3:09 PM

Another bastion to be abandoned.
Our cents make no sense. Thus, we should feel dolorous about our strengthening dollar, and just when Dolly Madison's bust was to appear on our new 3.127 dollar bill.
Where will it all end? Will the ramifications lose all consequences?
If Fahrenheit yields to Celsius or Centigrade will water no longer freeze or melt at 32 degrees Fahrenheit? Will Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, posthumously, need to change his name?
On the other hand, a thumb?

Posted by: Stug Guts [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2015 3:31 PM

Meh, all metric measurements are based on the real world too. I have always liked the metric system, it just makes more sense and is a lot easier to use. Its too bad we didn't swap over in the 70s when it would have been a lot cheaper.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2015 9:32 PM

Oh yeah? Well perhaps some metrified smarty pants can convert miles per hour to furlongs per fortnight.

Answer here but of course we won't cheat, will we?


Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 10, 2015 11:43 PM

Posted by: Fat Man [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 11, 2015 12:10 PM

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