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

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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  • 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 bmo ( 77928 ) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:39AM (#42500921)

    If we are going to adopt a decimal system of weights and measures at least we should go with an American one.

    From your link:

    "Jefferson proposed to divide the foot into 10 inches, 100 lines, and 1000 points"

    This is exactly how land surveying is done today in the US. Steel and fiberglass land surveyor's tapes and leveling rods are graduated in 10'ths and 100'ths of a foot as the standard. It has carried over from the land surveying electronics revolution in the 80s to be incorporated into total stations.

    On a total station, you can switch between metric and English at the press of a button, but since land surveying is "1/3rd measurement and 2/3rds law" as one former boss put it, doing measurements in metric when a deed calls out English is just nuts.


  • Re:Pints (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) * on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:39AM (#42500923) Journal

    'I arst you civil enough, didn't I?' said the old man, straightening his shoulders pugnaciously. 'You telling me you ain't got a pint mug in the 'ole bleeding boozer?'

    'And what in hell's name is a pint?' said the barman, leaning forward with the tips of his fingers on the counter.

    'Ark at 'im! Calls 'isself a barman and don't know what a pint is! Why, a pint's the 'alf of a quart, and there's four quarts to the gallon. 'Ave to teach you the A, B, C next.'

    'Never heard of 'em,' said the barman shortly. 'Litre and half litre -- that's all we serve. There's the glasses on the shelf in front of you.

    'I likes a pint,' persisted the old man. 'You could 'a drawed me off a pint easy enough. We didn't 'ave these bleeding litres when I was a young man.'

    'When you were a young man we were all living in the treetops,' said the barman, with a glance at the other customers.

    You and this guy []. I think Orwell was trying to make a point about history being altered or lost when he wrote this part.

  • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Monday January 07, 2013 @12:51AM (#42501035)

    Even printed circuit boards are designed in "mils" - which are one-thousands of an inch. It's not just "things like building materials", it's "things like building materials and all the associated tools and hardware, and all of their associated tools and hardware, and also cars and all of their associated liquids and meters and infrastructure, and also electronics and their associated infrastructure, and also temperature and its associated infrastructure and cultural understanding".

    If you're going to label "building materials" as not really an issue, you might as well label all of those things the same. And then you have the current system as "not really an issue", which for most Americans it isn't. End of discussion.

  • by fsterman ( 519061 ) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:01AM (#42501117) Homepage

    Uhh, the government just has to mandate use within it's own sectors and for contracts. Everyone will switch over very quickly and the only choice you will have to make is how much more you want to spend on an imperial unit version of a given tool.

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

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday January 07, 2013 @01:21AM (#42501257) Homepage Journal

    We've had the metric system since day one. Ten pennies equal a dime. Ten dimes equal a dollar. Ten dollars equal a ten. Ten tens equal a C-note. People who can make change without relying on a computer understand the metric system perfectly. We had metric before most of Europe. How many shillings in a pound are there, anyway?

  • by theedgeofoblivious ( 2474916 ) on Monday January 07, 2013 @02:09AM (#42501583)

    What's bizarre to me is that we learn that the human body is 98.6 and that water boils at 100. When I was young I thought that human body temperature was close to boiling. I really doubt that I'm the only person in the U.S. who didn't know.

    Most people in the U.S. probably couldn't tell you that human body temperature is ~37 Celsius or that water boils at 212 Fahrenheit.

  • Re:US Metric System (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Monday January 07, 2013 @04:55AM (#42502567)

    ...Chinese glyphs make them more primitive than using an alphabet...

    If I may pick up on this one: The Chinese writing system is in fact very far from being 'primitive' in any sense of the word - it is uniquely suited to the Chinese language and continues to this day to be better than all the alphabetical systems that have been attempted over the years: Bopomofo, Wade-Giles, Pinyin and several others. There are two reasons for this, in my view.

    One is that the Chinese language doesn't have the same grammatical need for expressing different word forms - there are no inflections etc, so the same word form is used throughout, unlike in English (e.g. 'be', 'am', 'is', 'are' ...). Thus you can use the same character for a word everywhere without the sort of modification you see in Japanese, and there is no incentive to get away from the writing system.

    The most important reason, however, is that the Chinese writing system allows you to write all the different dialects in the same way; this means that you can communicate things like common legislation and culture over the whole of that vast country. When you compare things like spoken language or local culture across Chinese, the differences are at least as great as the differences you find in Europe, but all Chinese feel they belong to the same nation - that is ultimately because of the writing system. It is also interesting to note, that the groups that want to break away from China are exactly the ones whose languages are not compatible with the writing.

    And of course, once you master Chinese writing, it turns out to be hugely convenient, because it is so compact and concise.

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

    by Jappus ( 1177563 ) on Monday January 07, 2013 @06:24AM (#42502991)

    This from an idjut country that can't even spell 'METRE' correctly.

    I know you're fishing for karma with that opening, but may I remind you that the ORIGINAL spelling for the primary units is french:

    Mètre, kilogramme, seconde and ampère.

    I don't see a single anglo-saxon "idjut" on either side of the Atlantic use the accents or the double-m or the final "e".

    For that point, neither so do the Germans: Meter, Kilogramm, Sekunde, Ampere.
    The Dutch also don't get it quite right: meter, kilogram, seconde, ampère.
    The Catalans are much weirder: metre, quilogram, segon, ampere
    And the Spanish finally top it all: metro, kilogramo, segundo, amperio.

    One might even get the funny idea, that pretty much every country in the world tried to make the measurements sound "natural" to their citizens. Crazy, isn't it?

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Monday January 07, 2013 @06:42AM (#42503073) Journal

    It's worse than that. Half the packages are in mils (such as SOIC, 0603 passive components, SOT-23 etc) and the other half are in mm (TSOP and TQFP with 0.5mm pitch, various LQFPs with 0.4mm pitch etc). So on one board it's quite possible to have some components in mils, and some in imperial, and you have to choose one grid (either a mils grid or a mm grid). Since the PCB fabricators seem to be using mm, I use a mm grid and the PCB layout tool can make traces snap to the component pins of things that are in mils.

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