- Books, Literature, and Writing
America Will NEVER Switch to the Metric System
Are We Doomed?
Despite dire predictions that the U. S. is economically and scientifically doomed because we cannot get metric ideas like Celsius and milligram into our heads, in everyday life we are doing okay with our standard customary weights and measures .
Americans have given up on metrication because we are unwilling to learn a new mathematical system and because if we did convert, only pharmacists and some auto mechanics would be able to understand weights, measurements and other metrical quantifications.
Fortunately, forefathers of the USA established a decimal based currency system -- based on ten -- based on the number of fingers most people have.
While freeing us from British political tyranny, they also avoided the maddening tyranny of reckoning with shillings, pounds, farthings, guineas, sovereigns, tuppences and an occasional bob, which confused even the British themselves for centuries.
Decimalization makes sense -- or cents -- for currency. Most Brits, who revere tradition and who have some resentment towards metrication of traditional measurements, even admit that finally making the pound equal to 100 pence was a positive, or more specifically, a "jolly good" idea .
They did keep their customary pound instead of adopting the Euro. This was partly a deliberate effort to confuse Americans who still think "pound" is a unit of weight rather than of currency. Obviously, they are still ticked off about that revolution thing.
While our forefathers did the right thing for currency, they retained the old system of weights and measurements based on the kings girdle, his shoe size and the amount of ale he could drink before falling off the throne. I was never sure if these official measurements changed with the coronation of a new ruler or if the new ruler just adopted the measurements and inherited the tankards, girdles and shoes of the old ruler. If true, this would explain some of the funny shoes worn by kings who succeeded queens.
" I am not a size 38"
Speaking of shoes: One of the real reasons that we resist metric measurement is that women refuse to suddenly go from a size 7 shoe to a metric size 38. There is also no way to get American women to increase vital bodily measurements to metric. None are willing to instantly increase waist measurements to a number which seems to represent dimensions of extinct sea mammal species.Metric weights , on the other hand, might have some appeal. Replacing a standard bathroom scale with a metric version can change a weight of about 159 lbs to a svelte sounding 72 kilograms.If we were to adopt the systems used by 98 percent of the civilized world we would be on the slippery slope leading to the institution of metric time telling. Each day would be divided into 100 equal hours instead of 24, each hour would be worth 14.4 non-metric minutes You could work 40 metric hours per week which would equal about 9.6 old hours and still have six days a week left to get into mischief. Lunch hours would be so short that indigestion would be rampant.Eight hours of sleep would take a little less than less than two old-style hours resulting in severe sleep deprivation. People would watch four times as many hour long television programs per day these would all have to be shown in fast-forward speed. but at least people would stop saying "There just aren't enough hours in the day".
Confusing Days Indeed!
The calendar would have to be adjusted into to a ten month system by eliminating a couple of months like March and September when nothing much happens anyway, and adding about 6 days days to remaining months. Think of how nice it would be to have those extra days just before the holidays. Monthly bills would be larger but you would only pay them 10 times a year instead of 12.
Some of the beloved holidays like Ground Hog's Day, National Pickle Week, Shamu's Birthday and Hug Your Cat Day would be eliminated. Your cat doesn't want to be hugged anyway, but some of the more important holidays like National Professional Pet Sitter's day might be moved into one of the extra days of the next month.
People would also have to stop saying "a pint's a pound the world around". Come to think of it, I think they have already stopped saying that.
Expressions like "give him a foot and he'll take a mile" would have to be changed to give him 304.8 millimeters and he'll take a .a whole bunch of meters, and probably no one would ever say that unless you were talking to a pharmacist or car mechanic.
The metric system is OK when you are measuring infinitesimal or astronomical things, but for everyday use the familiar friendly and customary measurements like cups and teaspoons and yards and inches are easier to visualize and comprehend for Americans.
It was probably a mistake to mix standard and metric units when doing calculations for NASA's Mars Observer some years back. It crashed into the planet due to a measurement miscalculation. They weren't baking a cake, after all. Scientists are supposed to know better-- or at least have the good sense to be European.
Now that many European countries (not the UK) have converted their varied currencies to the euro. You can no longer have the heart stopping thrill of being presented with a bill for 947,000 lira for a crusty cheese roll and a glass of vino in Italy. Thankfully, in previous years you were usually able to resume normal cardiac function when you realized that the bill was only the equivalent of a couple of bucks.
Measurements of food quantities in markets and recipes would take a lot of getting used to. When I was a child my mom used to send me to the corner butcher shop for a "pound of ground round". I always thought that had a nice lilting ring to it which could be skipped to, unlike a whole bunch of kg of ground round.
Metric measurement is an affront and an inconvenience to Americans who cook,. It's a thinly disguised attempt to get us to buy European kitchen implements. It doesn't help much to tell us that a gram is about equal to the weight of a raisin. When there is a recipe calling for 350 grams of raisins.. how much time do you think it takes to count that many?
Hogsheads were probably always inconvenient and messy to measure with, whether attached to the hog or not.
This Changes Everything
One of the more difficult parts of metrication would be changing some of our familiar expressions. Things like "Tons of fun" would become .several hundred kilograms of fun, and somehow that doesn't sound like nearly as much fun. A pounding headache would become a kilogramming headache.
Footprints would become centimeter prints. Inchworms will have to be called 25.4 millimeter worms. Centipedes would become -- no, I guess they would stay centipedes.Taxpayers will no longer foot the bill for political schemes; they will centimeter or perhaps decimeter the bill, which gives the misleading impression of being much less significant.We haven't done away with Auld Lang Syne, just because half of the words are incomprehensible; they are still comfortable and friendly And as for that "cup of kindness", it just isn't the same in fractions of a liter.----------------------
Despite my efforts to make it obvious, I have had a number of comments that have aimed creative insults at my lack of intelligence regarding the metric system.
Let me assure you that I am poking fun at the American reluctance to change their ways of measuring and weighing, and think that metrics are a jolly good idea for all of us.