Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Stuck in the Past

Not quite sure why this is proving to be such a difficult issue for us Brits to cope with. Metric measurements make far more sense and yet reading the comments that the UK Public have posted against the article you really do wonder where some people come from. OK, I accept that changing miles to km is going to be expensive but is it really going to be that confusing? Didn't we manage to go from imperial to metric with coins in 1971 and somehow we coped.

There are some daft comments such as 'the metric system is more accurate' (ahem, since when were feet and inches inaccurate?); 'we have more in common with the US then the EU so should stick with imperial' and this lovely quote

'Great - I'm fed up with having to convert those micky mouse metric numbers into sensible English equivalents. I mean what sort of nonsense these metric units are. If they had made the metric units so that they could be easily be related to imperial units (ie 1KG = 1LB or 1KM = 1 mile) then there might have been some sense to their loopy system'.

Fortunately the comments page is equally balanced by 'normal' people who see the sense. No, I don't want to lose the pint but apart from that I can live with cms, kgs and kms.

This is a classic website! I love their metric culprits including companies such as the British Standards Institution and Sainsburys (yes, the supermarket). They even have a page of 'illegal' road signs. These are signs that, shock horror, have metres on instead of yards. Apparently they are only legal if they have imperial on too.

I'm sure it's not a super simple issue to resolve. To be honest if it was I'm sure the UK Government would have knocked this on the head years ago. But, hey ho, this will rumble for years.


Ken said...

Neater, easier, and all interlinked. I know the imperial system stems from Roman soldiers paces, and so on but, really, working from the base 12, or 16, or 22 or just about any other number you care to think of is confusing in itself. I suspect everyone actually knows that metric is easier - we just don't like being told what to do, particularly by Johnny foreigner!

Ruth said...

I know, but some argue that if we can cope with a non-metric calendar and time system then surely we can cope with non-metric weights and measures. It shows you can always find examples to back up your argument!

Ken said...

Yes - it's a challenging concept, that of decimalising (or metricating) time. Our current system is quite illogical but is therefore a great example of how we are comfortable with what we know, and will resist change, even if its to a simpler, slicker, more efficient way of doing something.

Dad said...

Please don't confuse metric and decimal. The metric system is a decimal system but not all decimal systems are metric. So a calandar is not non metric, it is non decimal. And of course we can cope with a non decimal system, we have done it for years but the fact remains that for measuring the metric system [or to be correct the S.I.] is far superior to the imperial system. About all that we actually use of the imperial system are pints [in a pub] miles [on the road] and pounds and it would cause confusion at first but it would be much easier in the end. It was a muddle when our currency went decimal but we think nothing of it today and to go back to 12 pence to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound would be resisted far more than going 'metric'. I am sorry the E.U. has not done something useful for once and made us convert what few imnperial measurements we still use to metric.

Ken said...

Yes, it's interesting that when we leave these shores we still manage to get a glass of beer, or drive to where we're going even though we're dealing in "alien" units. I think that our resistance to things SI is a (perhaps) misplaced sense of what being British is about. Strangely enough, while we insist on pints in the pub, we're quite happy to accept that a glass of wine will be, say, 250ml (if you're greedy).