INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

Imperial or metric?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
Message
Author
User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Imperial or metric?

#1 Post by Alan H » October 28th, 2008, 12:57 am

In today's Herald, there's a story about a 'metric martyr' appealing against her conviction for selling in pounds and ounces rather that kilograms.

Two questions:

1. Should we be enforcing the Weights and Measures Act that says all shops must weigh in metric?

2. When is the USA going to crawl into the 21st century and catch up with the rest of the world?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

MedMae
Posts: 167
Joined: March 14th, 2008, 9:46 am

Re: Imperial or metric?

#2 Post by MedMae » October 28th, 2008, 8:35 am

Alan H wrote:In today's Herald, there's a story about a 'metric martyr' appealing against her conviction for selling in pounds and ounces rather that kilograms.

Two questions:

1. Should we be enforcing the Weights and Measures Act that says all shops must weigh in metric?
I think my answer is yes and no. There are arguments to be made both ways and I am not sure if either side is more valid than the other. I think in this case I may default to yes to help prevent people being scammed.
Alan H wrote:2. When is the USA going to crawl into the 21st century and catch up with the rest of the world?
I think the US is steadily regressing into the dark ages, so I doubt they will catch up with the rest of the world. It's probably a "Traditional chtistian" value to use imperial measurements anyway.

Ok so I think we can establish that I am feeling particularly cynical this morning.
Complexity is just simplicity multiplied to a point which exceeds a particular level of comprehension. - Theowarner

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#3 Post by Alan H » October 28th, 2008, 12:57 pm

Of course, I should have said that the USA doesn't actually use Imperial units as a whole, but a set that has some significant differences from what the UK would know as Imperial, eg the gallon. But you get the idea...
MedMae wrote:I think my answer is yes and no. There are arguments to be made both ways and I am not sure if either side is more valid than the other. I think in this case I may default to yes to help prevent people being scammed.
I think the only reason for allowing imperial units is for those who have not gone through school learning about metric units. I'm not sure when schools changed over from teaching Imperial to teaching Metric (can anyone remember?), but I do remember both. But this was perhaps more to do with being interested in Engineering. Physics at Secondary school was certainly mostly in SI units, but I do remember cgs and MKS units.

So, all children and most adults will have been brought up with the Metric system, although they will have been exposed to Imperial units at home and while shopping.

I can use Imperial units of length, but I would not use them for DIY or anything similar. I suppose I have to use miles for long distances, but I'd prefer to use km. I wonder how many could tell you how many yards or feet are in a mile? Although there are a few benefits from using things like 12 inches to the foot, I think the benefits of Metric are overwhelming.
It's probably a "Traditional chtistian" value to use imperial measurements anyway.
Doesn't the bible mention things like cubits and bushels?

And what's these 'Letter' and 'Legal' paper sizes all about? Why not change over to A sizes (ISO) and move forward! [/rant]
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Gottard
Posts: 1306
Joined: October 3rd, 2008, 3:11 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#4 Post by Gottard » October 28th, 2008, 3:36 pm

Don't worry friends, there will be no-argument in a generation time. As to Americans "not conforming" they will probably convert to metrics as the Chinese take over! :laughter:
The only thing I fear of death is regret if I couldn’t complete my learning experience

tubataxidriver
Posts: 375
Joined: August 3rd, 2007, 10:39 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#5 Post by tubataxidriver » October 28th, 2008, 5:32 pm

I am professionally involved in this sort of issue (electric cable), and the main reason people try to sell products in any unit of measure is because that is what the buyer normally expects to be offered. In theory it doesn't matter which units are used, except that the buyer often makes assumptions about how much they think they are buying. In Europe most people in engineering circles use metres, but in areas of the Middle East and India it is still yards that is the most common specification. The difficulties arise when units are either not specified or are mixed, such as was the case with a firm selling reels of cable marked "100" into the UK. The price of the reels looked as if the units were metres, buyers assumed they were metres, but in fact they were (shorter) yards, giving the seller an additional 7% profit margin! This is the sort of abuse that needs stamping out.

As regards the USA changing over, I don't think it will ever happen, because of the way professional codes etc. are developed, presented and used in the USA. In the rest of the world, most engineers are taught to calculate from first principles the properties they need, whereas in the US they commonly refer to a table in a code book and use one off a list. A simplistic view, admittedly, but fairly representative.

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#6 Post by Alan H » October 28th, 2008, 5:54 pm

I have seen signs of the US changing: the company I worked for had a design centre in California and they were starting to use Metric in some new drawings. However, this could cause problems because of confusion (as ttd points out) with assumptions about the units being used. However, many components designed for printed circuit boards are still in fractions of an inch, probably because, although most components are made in the far east, they are still designed in the US. This is gradually changing, though.

The US papers are:
Letter 8.5 in × 11 in or 216 mm × 279 mm
Legal 8.5 in × 14 in or 216 mm × 356 mm

This does seem stupid, with Legal not being that much different to Letter: at least the A sizes relate to each other in a useful way.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

tubataxidriver
Posts: 375
Joined: August 3rd, 2007, 10:39 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#7 Post by tubataxidriver » October 28th, 2008, 6:07 pm

One of my major annoyances at the moment are these bl**dy paper sizes. Every time Bill "effing" Gates' wonderful Windows/Office does its monthly brain flip it seems to default back to American sizes and won't print things out as they were originally formatted in A4. Why can't their European products use A4 as default?

lewist
Posts: 4402
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 8:53 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#8 Post by lewist » October 31st, 2008, 12:10 am

Alan H wrote:significant differences from what the UK would know as Imperial, eg the gallon. But you get the idea...
Strangely, Alan, the US Gallon is eight pints, the same as ours. However, I learned from a barman in Waterbury, Vermont, home of Ben & Gerry's ice cream, that the US pint has only sixteen fluid ounces. That explained why the pint of rather good micro brewed beer he served me seemed so small.

**Thinks... that's the second time I have included ice cream in my posts today, first Mackies and now Ben & Gerry's. I like them both. Do I care if the container is half a litre or a US pint? Probably not.**
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: Imperial or metric?

#9 Post by Nick » October 31st, 2008, 11:06 am

Alan H wrote:I wonder how many could tell you how many yards or feet are in a mile?
Without looking it up, I can tell you there are 1760 yards in a mile. I'd have to stop and think to work out feet in a mile, but at the age of about 10, my schoolmaster, Mr Kendall, told us that there were 63,360 inches in a mile: something I have never forgotten. Why? Because he explained that if you turn the 3's round, it spell bEEbo. :D

He also had a rack of sharpened pencils (He used a razor-blade. I wonder if that would be allowed now?) Upon the rack was written, Ubendum Imendum, which he claimed was Latin for pencil-sharpener. :laughter: In fact it was a throw-back to the war, when aircraft repair hangars bore the legend "You bend 'em we mend 'em".

Going back to miles, I note you have gratuitously ignored nautical miles. :D

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#10 Post by Alan H » October 31st, 2008, 11:26 am

Nick wrote:there were 63,360 inches in a mile: something I have never forgotten. Why? Because he explained that if you turn the 3's round, it spell bEEbo. :D
I remember this number because of my Scout days and map reading: Ordnance Survey maps used to be one inch to one mile or 1:63360.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: Imperial or metric?

#11 Post by Nick » October 31st, 2008, 11:38 am

I think that, so long as goods offered for sale are labelled in metric measurements (sad though I think it is), goods should not be unable to be sold in Imperial measures. We have various absurdities. Milk is sold in 568ml, and lengths of wood are commonly 1.8m. So much for making things easier.

Having said that, my grandfather, who was a master butcher, coped with costing meat, measured in pounds and ounces priced in pounds, shillings and pence. Yikes! Imagine 9 oz at 3/4 per lb.

I also object to areas on a rugby pitch being called the 22, instead of the 25, even if it is in fact now 22 metres. Should we likewise update the name of the game to "Community Academy Football"? "Hooker" to "sex-worker" and "three-quarters" to "point-seven-fives"? I'm a sucker for quirky tradition. Bath Rugby (which is a rugby club, not a kinky water-sport) was until a few years ago called Bath Football Club. IIRC, they also reversed the numbers, so that the full-back was number 1, not number 15. Likewise, (again IIRC) Leicester Tigers used to use letters instead of numbers. Sadly, those traditions have been lost. :sad:

As for being taught metric and Imperial, my education was a complete muddle. I can remember, at the age of about 8 or 9, being led through our work books, called Maths at Work (books 1-8) drawing a line through every page which used Imperial measurements. So in fact, I was never taught them, they just seeped in through the pores. My friend Simon, who was a very clever lad, whizzed through all 8 books in a trice, way ahead of the rest of the class, and was rebuked for defacing his book, by crossing out "Maths at Work", and replacing it with "Maths Asleep". :laughter: I wonder if he remembers that?

As a consequence, for me, water boils at 100 degrees, but 32 degrees is a very chilly day . It is gratifying that I'm not alone. Gordon Brown announced the weight of his baby in Imperial measurements. I think he should have been prosecuted. :twisted:

lewist
Posts: 4402
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 8:53 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#12 Post by lewist » October 31st, 2008, 12:54 pm

Nick wrote:Having said that, my grandfather, who was a master butcher, coped with costing meat, measured in pounds and ounces priced in pounds, shillings and pence. Yikes! Imagine 9 oz at 3/4 per lb.
My father was a master grocer but in fact earned his living as a fruiterer & greengrocer. For apples at 1/8 per pound he had price calibrated scales. They were very simple to use and did away with any messing about with figures.

Well done with the nautical miles, Nick! I am really irritated by weather forecasts that give wind speeds in mph when they should be given in knots. I also noticed mention somewhere that there is some hypocrisy involved here given that all out road signs are in imperial measures.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: Imperial or metric?

#13 Post by Nick » October 31st, 2008, 5:32 pm

lewist wrote: Well done with the nautical miles, Nick! I am really irritated by weather forecasts that give wind speeds in mph when they should be given in knots.
It's worse than that, Lewist! They just say "breezy" or some such blather, without giving a wind direction! :angry:

lewist wrote: I also noticed mention somewhere that there is some hypocrisy involved here given that all out road signs are in imperial measures.
I've just heard a news item on Radio 4's PM programme about a bi-lingual road sign: The English version read (something like) "Welcome to our village. Please drive carefully" This had been translated into Welsh as (again, something like) "I am out at the moment, but please leave your message for translation".

User avatar
Alan C.
Posts: 10356
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 3:35 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#14 Post by Alan C. » October 31st, 2008, 8:50 pm

Bath Rugby (which is a rugby club, not a kinky water-sport) was until a few years ago called Bath Football Club. IIRC
:laughter:
they also reversed the numbers, so that the full-back was number 1, not number 15.
In proper rugby, the full back was always No 1, this was just rugby?union catching up. :smile:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

User avatar
xman
Posts: 355
Joined: January 8th, 2008, 8:28 am

Re: Imperial or metric?

#15 Post by xman » November 1st, 2008, 6:18 am

1. No. Shops should be allowed to do it their way, but understand that business will likely go elsewhere.

2. Only when the Federation is fractured and broken and forced by the world to join the more productive. Could come next Tuesday. :D

X
Always remember, it's your right to have a SUPER day.
If you're wrong, call me ... I'll have one for you!

Critical Thinking - http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/ctlessons.html

Lucretius
Posts: 262
Joined: July 26th, 2007, 11:19 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#16 Post by Lucretius » November 1st, 2008, 9:30 pm

I think we should stop using letters to measure breast size and move to my measurement system.

1 handfull
2 handfulls
3 handfulls

Too sexist?
"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken

Fia
Posts: 5480
Joined: July 6th, 2007, 8:29 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#17 Post by Fia » November 1st, 2008, 9:42 pm

It rather depends on agreeing parameters for a handful. Whose hands? How full is full :shrug: Will women have an approved calibrated plastic Lucretius hand to measure themselves by? Dream on, boy...

User avatar
Alan C.
Posts: 10356
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 3:35 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#18 Post by Alan C. » November 1st, 2008, 10:14 pm

In the late 60s early 70s, I never dreamt that a gallon of diesel would cost £1.45.9 , but since all this mucking around with our currency and our imperial measurements, I now find it costs not £1.45.9 a gallon but £1.45.9 a LITRE!
Check out the exchange rate our foreign friends, and stop whinging, I believe we have the highest fuel costs in the world, (I stand to be corrected, as always)
Mary was in Aberdeen on Thursday and it was 94p a litre for petrol, ours has not been lower than £1.23 for months :cross:
Back on topic :smile:
I'm sort of divided, I think petrol should be sold in gallons but beer should be sold in litres :shrug: :wink:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

Lucretius
Posts: 262
Joined: July 26th, 2007, 11:19 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#19 Post by Lucretius » November 1st, 2008, 11:35 pm

Fia wrote:It rather depends on agreeing parameters for a handful. Whose hands? How full is full :shrug: Will women have an approved calibrated plastic Lucretius hand to measure themselves by? Dream on, boy...
LOL

Well if anyone wants them measured they have to come to me.

1) That will be fun for me.
2) I can charge.
3) See 1.
"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: Imperial or metric?

#20 Post by Alan H » November 2nd, 2008, 12:40 am

The problem with leaving it up to shops is the difficulty in comparing prices (which will only benefit the shop and not the customer)...and the confusion in customers unfamiliar with the old units. I think we have to move on at sometime at embrace metrication in full.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Post Reply