Campaigners and Conservative politicos claim to have won an indefinite reprieve for the traditional British pound, inch, foot and - perhaps most importantly - pint. The BBC reports that the planned 2009 deadline for all UK/European sales to be conducted using the metric system has now been put in limbo, perhaps forever. The …
Typical bloody British intransigence! Helping export chances - the US doesn't even use the same measures.
We went metric back in the 1970's! Going round a British supermarket is a joke: pre-packed everything is metric, at the deli it's imperial.
As for the saving the pount, pint, etc. In Germany and the Netherlands it's common practice to order in "pond" or "Pfund" and mean 500g, ie. 46g more than an imperial pound. Everyone knows what they're getting and no one bats an eyelid. The same could be done in the UK and for a pint: as long as the crown referred to the 250ml or 500ml line no one would mind. But pragmatism in the UK, no chance!
As for stateside: don't forget Canada has been metric for ages.
Every other country in the civilised world is using SI without problems.
Knowing the perversity of human nature, and how "it's because we're English that we're sticking up for our right to be French" [Passport to Pimlico], I fully expect we'll soon see publicans offering litres of beer *because* they're still allowed to sell it by the pint!
Save the Pint!
And forget about the extra 68ml, how about getting a full pint for once in a pub?
It's insane that we quibble over how big a drink is officially, when we're getting shorted the difference anyway! As has been previously mentioned, have teh 500ml marking on a pint glass, and have the rest of the glass for head!
The Empire Strikes Back
The metric system was actually a product of the Arabic culture, which had mastered decimalisation long before the Anglo Saxons stopped collecting mud (as portrayed by Monty Python..).
Perhaps this is the reason for the reluctance of the Americans, California excluded, to accept it . Anything Arabic which cannot be converted into petroleum is "bad" ;)
But it is a fallacy to presume that the US has accepted the Imperial Standard. Have you ever heard of ... US Gallons, Tons, Barrels(oil again)...?
I suppose the convenience of 1m3 of water = 1000 litres = 1000 kilos = 1 metric ton has no value? Or that 1km = 1 000 000 mm?
When I worked in the oil industry, a cubic meter of liquid at a relative density of 0.75 weighed 750 kg. With astonishment I observed my Imperial colleagues diving for their slide-rules, calculators and notepads, only to 'estimate' the result.
To me a square foot is best used to describe the result of hiding elephantitis in a box.
Nothing more important.....
"...indefinite reprieve for the traditional British pound, inch, foot and - perhaps most importantly - pint".
I don't understand. Since 250ml and 500ml are perfectly acceptable measures, why can we not define a new metric measure of 568ml, and call it a Pint?
Long live the mile!
When in Rome, do as the Romans. Why should anybody have to change for anybody else? The mile is fine. The pint is fine. The gallon is fine, although Americans and Britons disagree on how much a gallon is. We landed on the moon in miles, feet, and inches. Even Canadians aren't fully metric. They use pounds quite often.
Long live the mile, and Fahrenheit (which is more precise than Celsius), and gallon. Just because the world uses it, doesn't mean we have to. If they visit our soil, they should adjust to us. If I go there, I have to adjust to them, so why do people want to make this condition just one-way?
less beer ?!
Its a typical sneaky Euro attack on our beer - the US pint is smaller than the English one !
as long as the crown referred to the 250ml or 500ml line no one would mind...
are you mad? i pay enough as it for a pint without losing out on 68ml!
Actually England's own fault..
Yep its all our own fault that we can't get a proper pint when we go state side.
True they still have 8 pints to the gallon over there - but rather oddly only have 16 fluid ounces to the pint...
Turns out the root cause goes back a few centuaries where we decided to sell those yanks a smaller gallon, but still charge them the full whack price.
True they were dumb enough (see also London Bridge) to fall for it so it can't be all our fault...
As for pints of beer
No, I'm not mad!!!
As for the "missing" 68 ml - is this all that people are bothered about? I suspect the answer is yes and if so we should get on with it. We all know pubs will use it as a way to increase the price by stealth but weights and measures properly enforced could at least delay this.
Anyway what do you pay for a pint? The variation in prices in the UK always staggers me when I'm home. You can a lovely pint of Sammy Smiths in the Shambles in Manchester for less than £1.50. Why pay more and why drink anything else? Lager drinkers deserve all the overcharging they get.
And don't forget NASA
I'm sure it wasn't the first time, but does anyone remember the Mars probe from a few years back that went SPLAT? I seem to recall (and may be wrong) that it was because team A, who were working on inter-planetary trajectories, were doing calculations in metric, and team B, in charge of Mars orbital mechanics, were using the numbers from team B, but in Imperial measures instead of metric.
Be that as it may, there is a church in Finland at a place called Kerimäki which is the largest wooden church in the world and is exactly 2.54 times larger than it should be - as the story tells it (although this is denied by the Kerimäki regional government), there were unmarked numbers on the blueprints, an architect who worked in metric and a joiner who worked in Imperial...
rosy-glow of nostalgia..
..with any luck, I might wake up tomorrow and find that it's pre-decimalisation again and the whole metric experience has been nothing but a very bad dream. I can run down to the corner shop with my sixpence and buy my Pippin comic, some ha'penny chews and a Curly-Wurly and still have change for the matinée at the local picture house..
bah, everything was better before metricification! I blame Ted Heath and the Common Market..
Can a metrophile tell me...
I see comments on all sorts of sites claiming metric is superior to imperial because it is 'easy to convert from mm to km'
What earthly use is that?
I measure small distances (length of a pen etc.) in inches (I guess you metric folk would use mm).
I measure slightly longer distances such as the width of a room in feet, or yards (you'd use m)
I measure the distance between towns in miles (I guess you'd use km).
I never really want to know how many pencil lengths it is from London to Birmingham, so I really can't see the point in converting miles to inches. Similarly I can't see what the point is in converting km to mm, to do so would imply a level of accuracy in the km measurement that is frankly not going to be there, thus making you look stupid as well as producing a waste of time number.
I don't mind anyone using metric, but they shouldn't feel superior for it, and they shouldn't try and make me change either.
The crown appears to have been replaced by the CE mark on newer pint glasses.
US pint not really 4/5 imperial pint
Although it's true that a US pint is only a measly 16 floz, the US floz contains more liquid that an imperial floz as its volume is set as the volume of 1oz of water at room temperature (21C-ish), whereas the imperial floz is set as the volume of 1 oz of liquid water at (just above) freezing point...
So how anyone can say "it's easier to trade with the US by keeping the same measurements" clearly hasn't done their research and is talking hogwash - imperial measurements are not the same as the US measurements of the same name...
Where's my beer?
No one minded when spirits went metric, as you got more. Here, however, you are depriving people of beer (don't for one second think prices will reflect a smaller measure being served). It simply will not stand.
How about Billion?
The americans did after all, redefine Billion to make them seem bigger (1000 million, as opposed to a Million-Millions).
Just use both
Huh. Well, i don't drink, so that doesn't bother me -- though i've been sympathising with you lot regarding the foam wastage/shorting . . .
Why *not* make 568ml a "pint"? After all, a 'pint' is an arbitrary measure, anyway! (And you're right; calling 500ml a 'pint' will just cause the publicans to charge you the same as for the larger pint...)
Better yet, just learn to use both, and switch according to what you are doing. When you're in a pub, you *know* what a pint means; when you're driving down the freeway, you *know* what a kilometer means.
i will switch between metric and American linear units depending on how precise i want to be; it's easier to think in whole mm rather than fractions of an inch, but more convenient to think in a smaller amount of inches rather than twice-and-a-half that much in cm.
As long as i stay consistent, it doesn't matter.
I agree, we should protect the billion (Tera not Giga) and trillions (Yotta not Tera), after all shouldn't a trillion be a billion, billion?
If anyone starts swanking around with a trillion dollar deficit we can truly laugh at their Yottaloss.
Save the Pint... mhh..
the drink or the meassure?
Look to Australia
Metric doesn't mean you lose out on beer.
In Australia there are 2 main sizes of beer: 285mL and 570mL. In my home state they're called "middies" and "pints." In Victoria a middie is called a "pot," but then all Victorians are weird anyway. The middie is half a pint.
New South Wales has an even better size, the "schooner," which at 425mL is absolutely right for the hot aussie climate. Big enough to hold its chill, but not so big that it takes too long to drink, so you don't have to deal with warm dregs.
Who says you have to have 500mL of beer in a glass?
Go here for more info on the genius of aussie beer sizes:
As the similarly-named Charlie Clark points out above, Canada has been metric for ages.
As a fan of the Canadian Football League (that's a Canadian version of American (=NFL-style) Football, not FA style football), I can say that nearly every Canadian must feel a touch of pride, watching his team cross the Centre, or 50.292 metre line on the field. Oh, or is that the 55 yard line? One forgets betimes.
While its important to understand the basics of both systems (In case you go somewhere which does use the other), we would be better off with a metric system. Metric for the majority of things is more useful, especially since money is based more so on it (working out fractions and relating to monetary values is slower in general for imperial)
Theres no point in going to a pub and saying "ill have a five hundred and sixty eight millilitre of X" anyway... in a pub, its pointless to do that, a pint is 568ml, and thats what we should ask for and get served.
Although a "Shot" has quite a large verity of sizes, mainly being 25ml and 35ml, although ive seen 20 to 50ml before. Not much we could do about measures they want to sell them in though.
What many are forgetting...
...is that for years schools have been teaching primarily metric measures. Fahrenheit means nothing to me, if I'm honest - someone stated that it's more accurate, well that may be so, but Celsius just makes more sense. If I wanted to be so correct I'd use Kelvin.
Same goes for billions, trillions etc. To me, it just goes up by a factor of a thousand, that's it. Fair enough, traditionally it was a million millions etc, but the world works with the American style. We lose nothing by accepting that, so why not?
Serve beer in the same glasses but instead of writing 'Pint' on them, write '568ml'. Or, change the definition of the word 'pint' to mean '568ml'. Not very hard.
Canadians still use imperial
Canadians are about as metric as we are. They may use Kms on their road signs but you'll find in many magazines etc, use more imperial than we do. Also packaged goods are often sold in lbs and ozs and building construction is carried out in feet and inches.
Metric isn't easier
Sorry but base 10 sucks. It's the sum of two prime numbers so fractions don't work.
halves are OK, you can have metric halves.
quarters, these require 2 decimal places, indicating that you're measurements are accurate to 1 part in 100!
Thirds, forget it. You can't have a metric third.
As an engineering unit - sorry metric isn't too clever.
But then considering that the definitions were rushed through prematurely then perhaps this isn't a great surprise. The whole metric system is based on some rather poor measurements. Add to that that it was aimed at a definition based on 40,000,000 meters and 40 is hardly a "metric" value.
At least feet and inches are based on something that is nominally "human" in scale.
Too many laws
We should convert Europe to the Furlong / Firkin / Fortnight system. It's at least as logical as arguing for ages (never mind legislating) about whether people should be allowed to sell stuff in pints.
Fractions not a problem
Fractions are not a problem at all in base 10! It is true that you sometimes get a repeating digit, but many times in practice you cannot use all the digits in your answer anyway and so have to round off somewhere. For example: you want to divide a space 1m. wide into six equal parts. Each one will be 0.1666666... of a metre wide. But a tape measure can only be read to an accuracy of, say, half a millimetre which is 0.0005m. So we calculate 1/6, 2/6, 3/6 and so on using a calculator and each time round the answer to the nearest 0.0005. (We do not perform any further maths on the rounded answers; this is to avoid a build-up of errors.)
Also, the metre and centimetre are human units, once you know where to find them on the body! And it's a good relationship, too; one part in a hundred is about the visualisable limit. Inches are too big and clumsy, and feet are too small, to be any practical use.
Lastly, a pendulum 1 metre long has a half-period (i.e. end-to-end swing time) of almost exactly one second. This is because the acceleration due to the Earth's gravity is approximately pi**2 metres per second every second.
a few things
a few things:
1) as others have pointed out, US and UK units are for the most part incompatible. (Why? Well, that's mostly because the US is stuck with 1770s units.. the UK redefined many of the units during the 1800s, but by that point they were in no position to dictate any changes to US units) .. a few units are interchangeable (an inch is exactly 2.54 cm on either side of the Atlantic, and I believe a degree Fahrenheit is the same in either country as well) but many are not. The units of liquid measurement (ounces, pints, gallons, etc.) are the most common point of confusion. (The US still uses the old base 2 system [so 1 pint == 2 cups == 16 fl oz), but the ounces are larger.)
2) I'd guess that this EU decision is based more on easing trade with the US than with helping anti-metric crowd in the UK. US law (specifically the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act) requires dual-labeling in the US.. most products must be marked with both US and SI units.
So a gallon of milk sold in the US is labeled "128 fl. oz (3.79 L)" and a 2 L bottle of Coke is marked "2 liter 67.6 fl oz (2 qt 3.6 oz)" .. (why does it list both ounces as well as mixed quart/ounce? and why does the second [incorrectly] say "oz" instead of "fl oz"? I don't know, but I'm looking at a Coke bottle as I type this.)
Yes, we buy our milk in gallons but we buy our Coca Cola in liters. Silly, isn't it? Note however that our aluminum cans [not aluminium, but that's a different story] are still 12 ounces (and are thus marked "12 fl oz (355 mL)" under current law) and one can sometimes find 16 fl oz or 20 fl oz plastic bottles alongside the 500 mL or 1 L bottles. I've seen all four sizes on the same shelf at the store ... very silly.
3) Manufacturers in the US have been trying to get changes made to the FPLA to allow for metric-only labeling in the US. With this change in EU law, I guess that puts less pressure on the US to change its law. (But I imagine companies will still press for the US change.. many companies would like to drop dual labeling.)
4) Schools in the US teach both US and SI units. Students are expected to use SI units in science classes. Most consumers are at least somewhat aware of SI units. Not just in terms of 2 L bottles of soda.. most will have encountered the Nutrition Facts labels on products (which use SI units, except that they still use the deprecated kilocalorie instead of the preferred kilojoules) or will have taken medications with dosage information in SI units. Most US consumers don't know how to convert between units (even the simple ones, such as a liter being almost the same as a quart) and will use US units for most daily activities (measuring temperatures, judging distances, cooking, etc.)
5) NASA tends to use SI units. See, for example, their recent press release which promises to use only SI units in the upcoming lunar program. The problem with the Mars Climate Orbiter was due to the outside contractor Lockheed Martin. Whereas NASA had asked for some information in Newton-seconds (an SI unit), Lockheed Martin supplied the data in terms of foot-pounds (a US unit). NASA should have double-checked the units, but the fault lies with Lockheed Martin for using the wrong units.
The wikipedia article on metrification in the US is both informative and entertaining: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_States
I have a better idea...
...and it is this: redefine the pint as *600* ml.
What about government education guidelines
so what happens to the last 2 generations who have been taught in SI units. will the government now change curricula and insist on an about turn. the american thing is a red herring they dont even use the same size gallon as we used to. it comes out as pretty much a metric equivalent.
AND ..... does the judiciary now refund all the fines levied against traders in the past few years for non compliance ... plus interest of course.
this is just a bunch of boring old fart luddites with their heads stuck in the sand or maybe somewhere nearer than the beach.
Fahrenheit? Oh good grief...
I'll defend duodecimal over decimal (more factors, so no need for fractions when doing common sections such as half or third), I'll defend feet and yards (as being based on people, not on a faulty estimate of the earth's circumference), and I'll *use* metric when it's appropriate to the task at hand, but Fahrenheit?? No way...
The Fahrenheit scale is not human-based - it has arbitrary endpoints based only on 18th century science - and it lacks any sort of the internal consistency.
I mean, who the heck has any real feeling for what 0F actually feels like? And if he really did mean 100F to be human blood temperature (as most historians seem to think), he got it seriously wrong.
As has already been said, if you want a more accurate scale than Celsius, use Kelvin.
Is there a measure for government stupidity?
As some previous posts have hinted at, this has nothing to do with whether metric is somehow better or worse than imperial, it is about communication and appropriate levels of precision. If I ask the butcher for a pound of mince, he knows what I mean and near enough is fine, provided he only charges me for what I actually get, however he measures it. If I'm building a house, on the other hand, then the architect, the brick layer and the carpenter really do need to agree to use the same units and measure accurately.
Where this all goes wrong is when governments decide to legislate, having thought through half of the implications. So now we have to buy petrol in litres, but fuel consumption is generally reported in miles/gallon. And that's probably the least important consequence of letting the lunatics run the asylum.
Metric is not dead in the UK at all
Although some pro-imperial people are claiming victory that the EU is backing down on imposing metric only pricing, this does not mean an end to metrication of the UK.
It is and will be still illegal to sell loose items using only imperial measures. Prices must be in metric quantities, (except for beer in pubs), with imperial pricing allowed as a supplementary price, i.e. the price shown can show per kg and per lb, or just per kg, but not just per lb.
So for those campaigning against metric there is no real victory at all, just a continuation of the current situation.
But in reality I think that more and more people, especially younger people, and intelligent people of all ages, are preferring metric in everything rather than the confusing old-fashioned Roman/Babylonian-based Imperial system.
Most of the world moved to metric only a long time ago. The USA drags its feet due to various political and stupid reasons, Canada went mostly metric and the UK is mostly metric apart from the stupid old mile. The mile came from the Romans, and they defined it as 1000 paces of a Roman legion. Today no one knows what a mile is, other than a long distance. Or they know it as 1609.34 metres. I have no idea how many yards, feet or inches there are in a mile. But in 1 km there are 1000 metres, or you could state it as 1 million millimetres :-)
The UK should complete the full changeover to metric asap. The pint should be redefined as 600 ml, as it was in Australia. Currently the UK pint is 568 ml. The US pint is a mere 473 ml or so. Maybe 600 ml of beer is too much for some people though...
Just get on with metrication. Tony Blair should make us all go metric before he departs from his office as PM.
Most likely course of events
What is most likely to happen is that the kids who have learned exclusively metres, litres and kilos in school will eventually grow up and take positions of power; by which time, anybody who has never heard of the metric system will be long dead.
Too many laws
yes, Paul is dead right; I'm longing for the day when my car's speedometer shows "furlong per week" - lol
Missing the pint?
All these people here arguing about losing their pint and having to pay more if it's in metric (due to pubs using conversion as an excuse to increase prices) are missing the point.
What you buy in the pub is more expensive than in the supermarket or off-license anyway, but the difference is the latter is sold in metric so you can't easilly do a price comparison.
If pubs sold in metric you'd be able to do an instant comparison of the price of your lager and what you buy in Tesco... currently you'd need a calculator so the landlord wins either way!
Imperial Trouncing Across The Waves
Bit of a tangent here, but still relevant.
While a typical northern European mutt, I owe my love of Guiness to the Irish bits within me, which have actually been here in the States since before they were states.
So, of course I have a set of Guiness glasses, from which I can enjoy a tasty beverage after a long day of whatever it is I do around here.
Now, I know Guiness tastes nothing here in the U.S. like it does over your way, and one day I hope to sample the true thing. But for now, the product they make in those tall, fashionably black cans comes as close to the keg as one can reasonably expect to get on this side of the pond. Unless of course you have a keg, in which case you probably need to go to a meeting of some sort, or you own a pub.
So, imagine my surprise last Christmas, when the good folk in Dublin came out with a "New Look". At first I thought I'd bought a bad batch, as the cans were no longer filling up my Imperial Pint glasses. I had at least two inches of air at the top.
Tried another pack, same thing. Wrote to them, no reply. Finally my honey calls their U.S. offices, and we're astonishingly told that the "New Look" is actually less volume per can!
Apparently there are people here in America who don't understand the difference between a 16oz pint and a proper Imperial Pint. They kept making messes in the kitchen as that last four ounces overflowed their tiny glasses. They complained. Guiness listened, and made a marketing move. "Hey, now we can say there's this new look, justifying a raise in price. And we get to use less product per unit. Brilliant!"
Not sure how that's supposed to help sales, as I haven't bought one since, though I do occasionally have to make my way to a local pub for a true keg-served pint. In a proper sized glass.
So far as the metric thing goes, we tried that back in the early 70's. It didn't really work out. I was young enough, think my brain could have made the transition from quarts to litres. Our teachers on the other hand...
Perhaps, as they are so valiantly trying here in the States to teach two languages (one of the NOT French, go figure), you folks could try instilling school children with two measurement systems. Surely one of them will whip up a quick PHP script so he can natively think how he wants, and have his phone tell him the "proper" amount.
Just my two pence worth. ;)
I blame decimalisation
...and the ban on slave trading. I should be able to whip peasants too, if I fancy.
Europe is trying to take away my right to arbitrary and contrary definitions, and this matters to me far more than any of the serious ills in my country.
Makiing trade difficult and fostering confusions makes faraway countries seem more foreign, and further away - lord knows we don't want johnny for'ner or his ways here...
etc... etc... etc...
(or should that be speedometres?)
At any rate (pun intended), I thought the longing for rational speed measurement in our autos ought to be addressed.
A quick conversion indicates that on our new, improved speedometers, a speed of 100 km/h (approx 62.15 mph) would now read a brisk 167,059 furlongs per fortnight. I, for one, can hardly wait to see that little needle pass the 200,000 mark, speed cameras be damned!
Europe is not decimal
Not all of Europe uses decimal units, for instance:
French plumbers work in Imperial measurements
Scandinavian boat builder use feet
Perhaps they should get their own boat in order (pun intended) before they try to force us to do their bidding.
I was 6 when decimalisation came in and use metric or imperial measurements as the situation dictates, but I have no idea what a Fahrenheit feels like!
As for Fahrenheit being more accurate than Celcius what rubbish. Assuming that the claim is because there are more graduations in the Fahrenheit scale than the Celcius, this would mean that the measurement had more (integer) resolution. Accuracy will be determined by the absolute correctness of the reading, not by the units used!
As most British pints are like making love in a canoe**, who cares? Foreign booze normally comes in litre measurements, so order by the litre for safety.
**Yes, dear, it's f##king close to water.
Only lager drinkers overcharged? Hah!
Charlie Clark wrote:
"Anyway what do you pay for a pint? The variation in prices in the UK always staggers me when I'm home. You can a lovely pint of Sammy Smiths in the Shambles in Manchester for less than £1.50. Why pay more and why drink anything else? Lager drinkers deserve all the overcharging they get."
Actually, some of us down here in the South are exiled Northerners that only drink bitter :P
I'd dearly love to go home to my beloved Yorkshire every weekend to go out on the beer and pay less than £2 a pint (especially for Sammy's Old Brewery Bitter), but it's just not feasible.
Instead, my local down here serves a cracking pint of Old Speckled Hen for £2.50, which isn't that bad a price for the wilds of Wiltshire...
Imperial is not duodenary and yes metric is better all round
I respond here to remark by someone that Imperial is better than metric because it is duodenary i.e. base 12 which has more factors.
I suggest that those who share this view take a look at the multiples when it comes to mass (or weight of you prefer) measures:
1 lb = 16 oz
1 stone = 14 lb
1 cwt = 8 stone
1 ton = 20 cwt
So we have 16, 14, 8 and 20
None of those numbers divide by 3 let alone 6 or 12!
I also comment on the remark by someone that said (I paraphrase)
"What use is the fact that you can easily convert mm to km"
Well there is a little more to it than that. In metric you can express all the basic measurements with a single number. In Imperial you often two have numbers e.g. ft, in or st, lb To do any arithemtic with data in that form you have to do conversions e.g. ft, in to in, st, lb to lb. The ft, in case isnt too bad because it's only times 12 but it gets a bit awkward when it comes to st, lb.Things get worse still when it comes to area and volume where the factors are squared or cubed.
No, metric is better all round and thats a fact. That is the real reason it has caught on globally. Politics, if anything, always tends to hold it back not impose it gratuitously.
One good thing about the litre....
Once on a holiday in Barcelona a restaurant that had tried to make itself more attractive British holidaymakers sold beer as a "glass" and "half glass", the glass in this case, being, rather than a pint (British or otherwise) a full litre. Combine that with a large jug of sangria and we were staggering back to the hotel most nights
US & SI?
Interesting that the US teaches kids the SI system but neglect to teach it correctly. As regards fluids, the SI measure is the litre and not liter and the symbol is 'l' (lower case L, usually with a flourish) and not 'L'. Also, the measure of distance is the metre and not the meter - one is a unit of measurement and the other is a unit to make measurements.
Also, there seems to be confusion between metric and SI here. The humble cm is metric but not SI, SI only uses measurements of three orders of magnitude seperation - kilometre, metre and millimetre, etc