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Thread: Times article on Imperial/Metric and the UK

  1. #1
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    Times article on Imperial/Metric and the UK

    Say what you will on preference one to the other, but Iíve always felt that one thing Jimmy Carter got right was his push to get the USA onto the metric system. Of course that helped bury him, but it seems in a small world it would be best to do weights and measures the way the world does it. Interesting article.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/03/o...ependence.html

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    The article you linked is behind a paywall, can you summarise the main points?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    The article you linked is behind a paywall, can you summarise the main points?
    It is an article philosophizing on why we still use imperial measurements in the U.S. and how Boris Johnson wants to take Britton back to the imperial system.

    There is a lot of costs involved in changing to metric. There is also the question of if it is worth changing.

    Some industries are sort of changing. Many soft drinks come in metric packaging along with the imperial sized packages next to them on the shelves.

    Hamburgers are likely to be sold as "quarter pounders" for a long time to come. One franchise tried to sell a third pounder but market research indicated many people thought a third pound was smaller than a quarter pound. (gotta give the fools what they want)

    A "quarter pounder" sure resonates in the mind better than a hundred grammer or an eighth of a kilo burger. (even though an eighth of a kilo is bigger than a quarter pounder)

    What I do not like is "a pint" of beer or ice cream has often been reduced to 14oz.

    jtk
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    Jimmy Carter is a man with true integrity. He was and is unliked by many. Not by me. I have read his books, I have volunteered and donate a lot to Habitat For Humanity. He is the most successful Ex-President ever. I also like Metric. I do not use it for woodworking.

    P.S. Mr. Carter aint buried yet
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 06-05-2022 at 9:37 AM.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  5. #5
    I've always been amused at how close some of the basic in/mm measurements end up, like, 100mm is 'about 4", a liter is 'about a quart', a meter is 'about a yard'... but the two things the metric system DOESN'T have an 'about' of, is feet and inches. Ok, so 25mm is 'about an inch', and 300mm is 'about a foot', but like most Americans (I'm assuming)', while I can visualize in my head or with 'air fingers' pretty closely what 3", or 9", or 16", or 2' or 4' kinda looks like, for the life of me I can't figure how to space my air fingers for 75mm or 850cm or 1.2 meters...


    I AM getting good at times-ing or dividing by 25.4 to translate the difference, but without a calculator I'm lost!
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    I don't get too wrapped up about the subject. Ultimately, ease of use and familiarity and logic will govern usage.

    For example, many cultures used 100 units to divide a circle. Makes sense doesn't it? The Mesopotamians used units of 20 and hence it translated to 360 degrees for a circle. Want to go forward to a metric 100 unit system? Of course not, its what we are familiar with and it works.

    Feet originated with the Celts, and it is easily visualized, as we know how long a foot is more or less. An inch was the width of a man's thumb. Gallons also originated in the UK.

    As for metrics, I can now visualize a liter, as most soft drinks are sold by the liter. I know of no bar that serves 500ml glasses of beer, its usually a pint. I'm OK with staying with that, because that is how its been for a thousand years.

    Miles originated with the Romans (thousand paces) and again, I am OK with that, I know what a mile is and correct me if I'm wrong, but in the UK miles and kms are used interchangeably. Why is that? Obviously people know what a mile is and are comfortable using it.

    Bottom Line: Don't force metrics on me, as there are historical reasons for 360 degrees, miles, and inches. If you want to use 100 degrees, then go for it. The Persians weren't logical I guess.
    Regards,

    Tom

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    I live in the Uk and my view to the statement

    I know what a mile is and correct me if I'm wrong, but in the UK miles and kms are used interchangeably

    The only area where I have used kilometer was when studying A level physics 40 years ago and the metric system is used to for all scientific calculations
    Last edited by Brian Deakin; 06-05-2022 at 6:38 AM.

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    I live in the Uk and many people hold the view that Boris Johnson is an embarrassment Boris's call to bring back the imperial system is simply a distraction
    The statement
    Many soft drinks come in metric packaging along with the imperial sized packages next to them on the shelves.
    is incorrect for the Uk Soft drink manufacturers sell as in the USA a range of sizes for some products but do not sell metric sizes next to imperial sizes and sizes tend to be exclusively metric

    You are correct in stating Hamburgers are sold at McDonalds as quarter pounders and if you go into a restaurant steaks are listed as
    6 ounce 8 ounce and 12 ounce simply because these are weights people can visualize

    A pint of beer has not been reduced to 14 ounces in the Uk

    it is a legal requirement that

    https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/weights-and-measures/the-sale-of-alcohol-in-licensed-premises
    Beer, lager and cider

    Draught sales of beer, lager and cider must be made in one of these quantities:

    • 1⁄3 pint
    • 1⁄2 pint
    • 2⁄3 pint
    • multiples of 1⁄2 pint

    Alcohol sold in shops and bottled alcohol sold in pubs is sold in a range of metric sizes the commonest being 330 ml and 500 ml

    So to summarize
    Draught beer sold in pubs must be sold in pints or parts there of and the only sizes commonly used are 1 pint or 1/2 pint and alcohol sold in shops and bottles in pubs are almost exclusively sold in a range of metric sizes

    An anomality is milk is usually sold in pints in the UK( 1 ,2 ,4 and 6 pint) with the metric volume also stated on the packaging Again simply because people can visualize a pint

    Some retailers do sell milk in litres but my view is it is done for commercial gain to make it more difficult for consumers to make price comparisons
    Last edited by Brian Deakin; 06-05-2022 at 6:47 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    I've always been amused at how close some of the basic in/mm measurements end up, like, 100mm is 'about 4", a liter is 'about a quart', a meter is 'about a yard'... but the two things the metric system DOESN'T have an 'about' of, is feet and inches. Ok, so 25mm is 'about an inch', and 300mm is 'about a foot', but like most Americans (I'm assuming)', while I can visualize in my head or with 'air fingers' pretty closely what 3", or 9", or 16", or 2' or 4' kinda looks like, for the life of me I can't figure how to space my air fingers for 75mm or 850cm or 1.2 meters...


    I AM getting good at times-ing or dividing by 25.4 to translate the difference, but without a calculator I'm lost!
    Yup. Familiarity is 99% of it. I did some work on my Ford Ranger yesterday (and I can feel it today). The lug nuts are 3/4", all the other fasteners I encountered are metric. What can be a bother is mixing inch and metric fasteners. Everybody's got bolt and nut cans, right? I can't tell just by looking which are 1/4" and which are 6 mm or which are 5/16" and which are 8 mm. I guess I need 4 cans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Mcmurry View Post
    I also like Metric. I do not use it for woodworking.
    Yup. As an engineer, I like metric. As a woodworker, eh, not so much: the brain and eyes work better with binary fractions than decimal.

    (I once had a 'discussion' with a gentleman who persistently and loudly proclaimed that the metric system was inherently better because, and I quote, "Decimal is how computers work." The assembled multitude was so stunned that it took a full ten seconds for the laughter to start.)
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    I like metric for machinery but dislike it strongly for building anything around human proportion.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Harms View Post
    Yup. Familiarity is 99% of it. I did some work on my Ford Ranger yesterday (and I can feel it today). The lug nuts are 3/4", all the other fasteners I encountered are metric. What can be a bother is mixing inch and metric fasteners. Everybody's got bolt and nut cans, right? I can't tell just by looking which are 1/4" and which are 6 mm or which are 5/16" and which are 8 mm. I guess I need 4 cans.
    I have no issue with metric fasteners...until I need to buy some. Every metric widget costs almost exactly twice the price of the "normal" equivalent.

    My approach to mixed use is that any unidentified random nut/bolt/screw gets tossed into a common bin until I have a boring game/race/whatever on TV and can sit down with the full set of thread gauges to sort them.
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
    "Design"? Possibly. "Intelligent"? Sure doesn't look like it from this angle.
    We used to be hunter gatherers. Now we're shopper borrowers.
    The three most important words in the English language: "Front Towards Enemy".
    The world makes a lot more sense when you remember that Butthead was the smart one.
    You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much ammo.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Harms View Post
    Familiarity is 99% of it.
    I agree. I prefer english units for woodworking, but that's mostly because it's what I'm used to. (Hard for me to visualize height/width in centimeters, but only because I haven't made the effort to get used to it.)
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Harms View Post
    Yup. Familiarity is 99% of it. I did some work on my Ford Ranger yesterday (and I can feel it today). The lug nuts are 3/4", all the other fasteners I encountered are metric. What can be a bother is mixing inch and metric fasteners. Everybody's got bolt and nut cans, right? I can't tell just by looking which are 1/4" and which are 6 mm or which are 5/16" and which are 8 mm. I guess I need 4 cans.
    Your lug nuts are likely also metric, 3/4" is 19.0500 mm. Not sure if the threads are the same.

    5/15" is almost the same size as 8 mm. With wrenches the are interchangeable.

    Pretty much interchangeable sizes for wrenches:

    5/64" = 2 mm
    5/32" = 4 mm
    5/16" = 8 mm
    5/8" = 16 mm
    1-1/4" = 32mm (5/4") Back in the old days this was the size of the castle nuts holding on the brake drum for a VW bus.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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    My biggest confusion so far was trying to figure out how fast to drive and how long it was going to take to get from Buffalo to Toronto.
    Best Regards, Maurice

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