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Petition For Metric In US Halfway To Requiring Response From the White House 1387

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-imperial dept.
fsterman writes "Without any prompting from the U.S. Metric Association, a We The People petition to standardize the U.S. on the metric system has received 13,000 signatures in six days. That's half the number needed for an official response from the White House. It looks like ending the U.S.'s anti-metric alliance with Liberia and Burma (the only other countries NOT on the metric system) might rank up there with building a death star."
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Petition For Metric In US Halfway To Requiring Response From the White House

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  • US Metric System (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:06AM (#42500645)

    "Liberia and Burma (the only other countries NOT on the US metric system)"

    Right. And now the Metric system itself is from the US? Who writes this stuff.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:12AM (#42500689)

      Right. And now the Metric system itself is from the US? Who writes this stuff.

      Do you really expect that most American will accept the metric system if it is somewhat unamerican? I don't mind it been presented as an american invention if it can help bring the US in the 20th century.

      Also, I suspect this is exactly the idea behind this article. So shut up about it, and let this US metric system get root.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ian A. Shill (2791091)

        Right. And now the Metric system itself is from the US? Who writes this stuff.

        Do you really expect that most American will accept the metric system if it is somewhat unamerican? I don't mind it been presented as an american invention if it can help bring the US in the 20th century.

        Also, I suspect this is exactly the idea behind this article. So shut up about it, and let this US metric system get root.

        Once you convert over to metric, it's the 21st century.

      • by Cinder6 (894572) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:56AM (#42501083)

        Honest question here: Assuming you're an American, how would the US switching to the metric system enhance your life? Most people don't run around doing dimensional analysis, and people who have grown up with the current system don't have trouble with it. If you like the metric system, there's nothing stopping you from using it. For my own way of thinking, we have a lot of bigger problems to tackle before we spend money switching everything over to metric. Such a switch would have short-term negative effects (due to confusion and misunderstanding of how different units relate to each other), and I just don't see there being much benefit for the average person in the long-term.

    • by fsterman (519061) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:50AM (#42501033) Homepage

      Who writes this stuff.

      Me.

      Sorry, the thing went through several revisions : )

    • Re:US Metric System (Score:4, Informative)

      by GodInHell (258915) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:05AM (#42501559) Homepage
      This whole article is based on a common (and false) myth.

      The U.S. is a signatory to the international treaty of the meter. Our yards, pounds and gallons are defined on the meric scale and have been since the 1890s. The problem is not that the Gov't hasn't adopted the meter, its that the public has decided not to use metric measurements and has openly opposed efforts to convert public signage to metric.
      see, e.g.http://science.howstuffworks.com/why-us-not-on-metric-system2.htm
  • UK as well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:07AM (#42500657)

    I don't see how a country that drives in miles, weighs in stones (pounds for other things), and sells things by the gallon counts as metric.

    • Pints (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:19AM (#42500747) Homepage Journal

      I would hate to see the other units disappear as well but, as far as I'm concerned, someone should always be able to order a pint of ale. Any metric twaddle that threatens that should be thrown out with the other trash.

      Cheers,
      Dave

      • Australia went metric in 1970, and I can still order a pint in most pubs today (though middys and schooners are more Aussie).

      • Re:Pints (Score:5, Insightful)

        by donscarletti (569232) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:38AM (#42500915)

        You can buy a pint of beer in Australia too, despite the country being otherwise completely metric.

        You call it a pint because it is seved in a "pint glass", which by law holds 570 mililitres of beer, rather than the beer served one imperial pint of liquid (which, for historical reasons, it also happens to be).

    • Re:UK as well (Score:5, Informative)

      by locofungus (179280) on Monday January 07, 2013 @03:44AM (#42502165)

      Yes, we drive in miles. Stones and pounds are on the way out, ditto feet and inches which are only used to measure people. Anyone born before about 1960 tends to use stones and feet exclusively, anyone born after about 1980 uses metres and kilos. Those of us on the cusp tend to switch depending on who we are talking to.

      Fahrenheit (I even had to go and look up the spelling) has completely disappeared. I have absolutely no idea what the weather in Fahrenheit means other than doing some mental arithmetic.

      The mile will probably stay for motoring. Much like the guinea and furlong for horse racing and the chain for cricket. I don't know if the pint will finally disappear in the pub. I suspect not but the gill has gone. L.s.d. is not even on the radar of most people born before about 1980. With the replacement of the shilling coin in 1990 and the florin in 1992 the final links and reminders of our old money system escaped from public consciousness.

      Tim.

    • Re:UK as well (Score:4, Informative)

      by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexus[ ]org ['uk.' in gap]> on Monday January 07, 2013 @04:09AM (#42502317) Homepage

      I don't see how a country that drives in miles, weighs in stones (pounds for other things), and sells things by the gallon counts as metric.

      I've not seen anything weighed in stones/pounds or sold in gallons for a loooong time. However, I will agree that using miles on the roads and pints for beer (which are both units that haven't been taught in schools for *decades*) is insane. Even more fucked up is that british law relating to road signs states that for short distances, such a sign should be placed multiples of 100 metre away from the hazard but must say "yards" on it - i.e. a "low bridge 200 yards ahead" sign is actually 200 metres from the low bridge. (Placing metric units on the sign, or selling beer in half-litre measures is, of course, illegal).

  • by tsa (15680) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:11AM (#42500677) Homepage

    I can not believe that the metric system was invented by the US. I guess you meant IS metric system.

  • by eksith (2776419) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:11AM (#42500683) Homepage

    For this to even remotely succeed, at least two generations of kids need to grow up with the metric system (or at least have it along side imperial). Then, when they enter the workforce, metric will seep into common usage.

    Meanwhile, what of the generations of existing trades that rely on imperial? I.E. Carpentry, plumbing etc... It isn't just a simple matter of teaching metric either. All these industries and their supporting industries must switch or provide parallel measures (of course, the old timers will stick to imperial in that case, since it's there too). That's very, very, very expensive both in material and time.

    • by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:20AM (#42500757) Homepage Journal

      It isn't just a simple matter of teaching metric either. All these industries and their supporting industries must switch or provide parallel measures (of course, the old timers will stick to imperial in that case, since it's there too). That's very, very, very expensive both in material and time.

      That sounds like something that will require a lot of work, and will require hiring a lot of people to do that work.
      If only there was an unemployment problem in America...

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      We were already teaching metric in school (actually in grades 1-4) back when I was in school 20 years ago. The thing is that it doesn't really matter as for the most part its something kids learn and then when they get out into the real world unless they're in specific industries they don't use anymore and they end up getting used to customary units afterwards.

      I specifically remember being about 13-14 and going to work with my dad who was a construction worker. He asked me a take a measurement of somethin

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:08AM (#42501165)

      How exactly do you think the UK went metric? By killing everyone who grew up on imperial, and forcibly breeding the children in 1969? Seriously mis-understand how this is done dude..

      they legislated the problem away 73-80. I was in the cohort who left school friday being taught inches/ft and came back monday alive on cm/meter. I've never regretted learning the 12 and 20 times table.

      You'll be telling us people can't learn to drive on the other side of the road next (despite two economies having made the transition in the last 50 years)

    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:39AM (#42501383)

      For this to even remotely succeed, at least two generations of kids need to grow up with the metric system (or at least have it along side imperial). Then, when they enter the workforce, metric will seep into common usage.

      Meanwhile, what of the generations of existing trades that rely on imperial? I.E. Carpentry, plumbing etc... It isn't just a simple matter of teaching metric either. All these industries and their supporting industries must switch or provide parallel measures (of course, the old timers will stick to imperial in that case, since it's there too). That's very, very, very expensive both in material and time.

      And yet, somehow, the other 180 countries in the world managed to do it.

      In Australia, it was in the 1970s. A few years of "soft" conversions, where you just have to give a metric equivalent, then "hard" conversions where various official weights and measures go to solely metric, "rounded" quantities (e.g. 25 mm instead of 25.4 mm to replace one inch; 100 km/hr instead of 60 mph. Once weather reports stopped giving Fahrenheit equivalents supermarkets and butchers etc all started using kilos there was a burst of resentment but people got over it. The building trade went to mm early on. Rulers still often have inches on one side, but are needed less and less.

      But Mexicans already know how to use use metric, so I guess you'll probably go metric about the same time you change your official language to Spanish.

  • by Cruciform (42896) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:12AM (#42500691) Homepage

    13,000 American signed? That's like 20,000 in metric! (or airplane seats)

    • by swilly (24960) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:50AM (#42501891)

      So one American is equivalent to approximately 1.5 metric people. Yes, we Americans know we are overweight compared to the rest of the world, but that doesn't mean you have the right to poke fun. We just made a "different life choice", that's all.

      I actually once got disciplined as a kid for calling another kid fat. We can't help who we are and it isn't right to focus on peoples flaws as it prevents us from feeling good about ourselves. I wonder how much of our overweight problems and poor health is a direct result of all that PC garbage that was crammed down our throats as children.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:14AM (#42500707)

    People do a couple calculations in college and then they think they know something. It's not simple like multiplying by 25.4. Start with a quarter inch bolt of which there are several thousand on an airplane. Then consider the hole for that bolt. Then consider the drill bit for that hole. Then think about the washer and the thickness of the sheet metal used to make the washer. Work your way back to the rollers that press out the sheets. Think about all the mistakes that are not made due to well understood measurement systems. There is so much to change.

    Metric is nice. No doubt about that. Changing over is a gargantuan undertaking. Don't underestimate the difficulty.

  • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@a l u m . m i t .edu> on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:14AM (#42500709) Homepage
    Adopting the metric system will eliminate a lot of confusion and ease standardization of container sizes and other such things, which in the long run will save a lot of money. Indeed, the Death Star will be cheaper to design and build, and more likely to work, if all of the work is done in metric.
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:20AM (#42500755) Homepage Journal

    I don't have much of a problem with metric, but I don't think in metric. My children might be young enough to make the transition to metric thinking but this isn't going to happen in their lifetime because...

    1. Baby boomers are the biggest demographic group and they will reject a metric transition.
    2. If we have to wait for the baby boomers to die off, Gen X and Gen Y will be too entrenched in imperial thinking to make the transition.
    3. When the baby boomers die off Gen X and Gen Y will be the demographic groups driving elections and when we're in our 50s, there's no fucking way we'll go along with a metric transition.
    4. A lot of Americans like to keep doing things our way precisely because the rest of the world doesn't.

    LK

  • Too Late. (Score:5, Informative)

    by edibobb (113989) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:34AM (#42500887) Homepage
    Too late, we're already on the metric system. The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 and designated the metric system as the "preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and commerce."
  • by Nimey (114278) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:39AM (#42500929) Homepage Journal

    hell, it probably won't happen in my lifetime bar a major change in our political zeitgeist that will put "American Exceptionalism" to bed for good.

  • by MrLizard (95131) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:07AM (#42501157)

    Every time I read one of these articles, I sense this bizarre attitude that getting 25,000 signatures somehow means that a law will be passed or that something meaningful has been accomplished or that it's important to sign/not sign whatever bit of garbage is being bandied about at the moment. The "We The People" site is about as important, useful, or relevant as a pop-up poll promising you a free iPad for responding. The "response" from the White House is virtually always "We've read your stupid petition. Here's your response: It's stupid.". Laws are not passed in America by direct democracy, and, even if they were, you'd need about a hundred million votes, give or take, not 25,000. 25,000 signatures -- in a population of 300+ million -- are nothing. You can get 25,000 people to sign virtually anything. To get a law to the President's desk, you need to convince 50% of Congress to do something -- actually, more than 50%, given the many procedural obstructions that exist. Absolutely NO MEANINGFUL, CONCRETE, OR SIGNIFICANT ACTION WILL EVER BE TAKEN SOLELY AS A RESULT OF A PETITION ON THAT WEB SITE. Every time a web site or news service acts as if signing a petition on "We The People" is somehow different from writing "I wish the magic fairies would give me a pony!" on a scrap of paper and then keeping it under your pillow, it adds to the "slacktivism" of the American people and undermines any actual progress towards any desired goal, regardless of your political leanings. THE SITE IS A JOKE. It means NOTHING. It will not influence a single vote in Congress. It will not cause the President to take any action he was otherwise not going to take. Every moment wasted signing a petition, asking someone else to sign a petition, asking someone NOT to sign a petition, etc, is a moment wasted from your life (yes, like the moments I wasted writing this). You would accomplish more for yourself watching "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo", because at least you'd be entertained. (I assume, I've never actually watched it. If I want to see drunken redneck idiots, I can drive a mile to my local Wal Mart.)

  • by Captain_Chaos (103843) on Monday January 07, 2013 @08:19AM (#42503485)
    Without knowing it, Americans are already on the metric system, albeit indirectly, as the US customary units are defined in terms of metric units. The inch is formally defined as being exactly equal to 25.4 mm. There is no "standard inch" or an independent definition in terms of so many wavelengths of light or something like that. Same for the pound, which is defined as 453.59237 g.

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