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back to article Britannia triumphs over Johnny Metric

The EU will abandon all pretentions to enforce its filthy metric system on Britain, thereby guaranteeing once-and-for-all an Englishman's right to sup ale in pints, buy spuds by the pound, and measure the distance between the greengrocer and the boozer in miles. That's according to the BBC, which says the European Commission …

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Actually...

The distance between the green grocer and the boozer is measured in perches a perch being 5.5yd which is generally half a burgage plot in width. Shops are generally aligned to burgage plots you see. Well unless the streets have been completely rebuilt, after annihilation.

Long live the imperial system!

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It shouldn't have anything to do with the EU anyway

The UK's decision to go metric was taken over thirty years ago by parliament and should be enforced by UK bodies. It is stupid to describe as Verheugen as humiliated as he really doesn't give a toss about the matter. Much better to harp on about his extramarital love affair with his assistant!

All we need is for official weights and measures to be metric. No need to do away with pounds and pints at the point of sale but nothing wrong with modernising them either. I frequently by "pounds" of stuff at the market knowing I'm getting 500g and I'd be happy to get 0.5l when asking for a pint, although even there there is no real need to change. As for being "overcharged": point me to city centre boozer that doesn't take the piss.

Of course, El Reg's proposal for a whole new weights and measure gets my whole hearted support!

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Anonymous Coward

Will there be rules on clarity though

Typical of someone my age I mix and match imperial and metrix quite happily so I had no strong feeling whatever the outcome was going to be (Typically I'll make somthing which is 12 inches deep by 480 mm wide)

But will there be strict enforcable rules about ensureing labelling is clear so that when fish/meat/veg/stuff etc. is priced up, it is clear that is is per lb or per kg? It is pretty obvious for inches v mm, but since there are about 2.2lbs per kg I can imagine some unscrupulous sellers putting what seems a £2 per kg price and actually selling at £2 per lb.

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min

so what are the coppers gonna do?

The poor buggers might have to actually chase other 'real' criminals like motorists for example. i feel for their bosses though; they would have preened endlessly at the thought of being able to give every green-grocer and market stallsman an arrest and conviction. so i gues the only real loss, besides the massive waste of money trying to fix something that 'aint broke', would be the govrnment's police performance statistics. i bet that manky marijuana dealer stood outside my local market is quaking in his Nikes right about now..

How on earth can you give a bloke a conviction for selling bananas by the pound anyhow?

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Idiots

What kind of eejit can't get their head around the metric system? It's about a thousand times easier to understand than the old Imperial crap, and this is a sad case of old men and grumpy, pointlessly nationalist Daily Mail readers being listened to above common sense. Banging on and on about the evils of Europe won't stop Imperial being a stupid system of measurement.

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Bi-numeral

If it's good for kids' brains to grow up bilingual, then surely it's also good to have several systems of measurement.

Make the world simpler, and people will just become (even) more stupid.

Perhaps I'll teach my toddler to count in octal like the Yuki, just to be sure he gets the best start in life (and give him a couple of spare digits in case of household accidents).

John

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Anonymous Coward

Metric?

2997.5 km/sec...?

Shouldn't that be 1862.6 MILES/sec?

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Inches

But the USA inch etc is based on the old British Imperial system and the British Inch is now defined as 25.4mm, so they are different. Though Wikipedia has an alternate story on the Inch, so don't trust inches.

Except US liquid measure is based on not Imperial but "Wine Gallon" so hasn't been the same as UK for 100s of years.

The UK pint is no longer imperial but defined as 568.26125ml, so it's all smoke and mirrors. The UK is "really" running on Metric and the USA running on obsolete 18th and 20th Century UK standards.

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Alas the decline of the register has begun

"its filthy metric system" is quite simply wrong as it is our filthy metric system, after all we created it.

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Gah

The EU have come out of this looking by far the most sensible of the two parties. I have no problems using either system, but Imperial is illoigcal and there's no good reason to keep it imo. As Greg says above, it's a 'victory' for pointless nationalists whove ended up making the whole country look silly and backwards

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Let me guess....

"Greg", are you in your very early twenties perhaps? I just wonder. I learnt both imperial and metric measures at school so I couldn't really care less about the decision. I do find it easier to work in metric with everything aside from height and weight oddly enough.

I'm surprised people are still moaning about it, although I still prefer the phrase, "You don't get many of them to the pound" rather than "You don't get many of those to the 0.454 Kilograms".

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@Greg

The metric system, as said above, is helping to dumb down the population.

I have grown up with a mixture of imperial and metric measurements. I normaly use metric, as that is what school taught. But I weigh myself in stones, measure distances in miles etc.

However, the one thing the Imperial system did was ensure that people could multiply, divide, and cope with fractions. These are fundamental skills, which are sadly lacking by many youths today (like being able to read and write in non-text speak - on a side note did you know that you can score 97% on an English Language GCSE if you write everything in txt? They can only knock off 3% for spelling punctuation and grammar.)

If you have to deal with irregular multiples in the measurement system you are using, it will force you to learn it. If you can just add or remove zeros from a number, you dont need to know what you are doing, so you dont bother. The imperial system is good. Complicated but good.

On another breif tangent, the old Imperial nuts & bolts (thread sizes) were MUCH better than the metric ones, as you had both UNC and UNF, Coarse and Fine threads, suitable for different purposes, and more flexible. When one car manufacturer moved over to metric (cant remember which), they were replacing UNC bolts with the nearest metric equivalent. They forgot that the UNC bolts coarser thread was stronger, had problems, and ended up having to redo tooling and use bigger bolts. A costly mistake.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: so what are the coppers gonna do?

min said

...so i gues the only real loss, besides the massive waste of money trying to fix something that 'aint broke', would be the govrnment's police performance statistics. i bet that manky marijuana dealer stood outside my local market is quaking in his Nikes right about now..

Only if he sold his 'goods' by the ounce.

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@Greg

It's not a case of not being able to get their head around metric, it's our intrinsic right to choose for ourselves, and not have some politically correct, namby pambies on the continent making the decisions for us.

And like the comment a couple of lines above, I too work in both at the same time, my desk is 2 metres long, and 3 feet wide.

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@idiots

Agreed - apparently said idiots also prefer commenting endlessly on extramarital affairs instead of wrapping their neurons around issues that actually concern them, such as immigration issues, electronic (mis)voting, or the fact that heating fuel can still not be bought across borders.

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The misinformation on this subject could fill the valles marineris...

"How on earth can you give a bloke a conviction for selling bananas by the pound anyhow?"

You can't, and he wasn't. What you can do (and what that bloke was) is convict someone for using scales that were not correctly calibrated to required standards (ie calibrated in kilograms) and therefore potentially inaccurate. The fact is, when I ask for a pound of bananas (which I can still do), I would be shocked to get exactly a pound, it is always a little over, or a little under (let's be honest, usually a little over), the important thing is I get charged for what I end up getting, and the law has specified that so everyone gets the same deal that amount needs to be calculated from the mass of the good in a standard unit - in this case the kilogram. This man wasn't playing by the rules; people need standard measures, it doesn't matter what it is, but society needs it to be able to compare prices fairly. Quite simply the man should have got a new set of scales in the hundred and twenty odd years since decimalisation was first recommended by parliament.

I'd also like to point out the deafening silence of these campaigners for peoples-rights-to-sell-in-whatever-measures-they-please when a bar was censured for selling beers by the half-litre.

Anyway, that's my 2p (or slightly more than 19 farthings for anyone keeping count) on the subject.

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Title

How ridiculously archaic! Exactly Asterix and the British...

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Anonymous Coward

An all the other nonsense

One can only hope that the EU will stop trying to foist all the other 'issues which don't really matter' on us?

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Resistance is futile...

Go on you lot. Embrace the one good thing to ever come out of France (apart from the bikini).

And if you're one of Greg's grumpy old men, just think how much more impressive a certain part of your anatomy sounds when measured in centimetres. o:-)

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Anonymous Coward

Thank god we still got pints.

I for one am happy we can stick with pints, I could not go into the boozer and ask for a half (litre) as it sound gay so I would have to start drinking by the litre i.e. 2 pints of grog.

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Nev

No one on "the continent" give a toss about what people in the UK use...

This is just a typical non-issue stirred up by a

Murdoch lead media to try and force

the UK away from Europe. (And toward the

no-regulations US.)

"It's not a case of not being able to get their head around metric, it's our intrinsic right to choose for ourselves, and not have some politically correct, namby pambies on the continent making the decisions for us. " -Stuart Elliott

"politically correct", "namby pambies", "the continent"

Do you read The Daily Mail, then?

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Ahhh...

"The European Commission will, in future, leave all decisions regarding weights and measures to the British Government"

Except the UK government is just about to sign a bit of paper which is the political equiv to dropping their trousers, bending over, and shouting "take me Jean-Paul and Fritz".

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Ash

My own little war

I have been known on occasion, when the chap or chappess behind the counter seems a little curt, to ask for sausages by the pound.

The dialogue typically ends my side with "Well, you can either give me roughly 1lb of Thins, or you can give me EXACTLY 500g of Thins. I will wait while you cut them to the right length, bearing in mind EU legislation for the sale of Regular Produce, like the straight banana, and the uniform length cucumber."

Typically I get the former.

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Careful what you wish for.

Here in Canada we have been suffering the consequences of a partial conversion from Imperial to metric for 30 years. One idiocy is the practice of advertising meat in $/pound while the packages are stickered in $/kg. We've gotten used to it - as a "multicultural" society maybe we even prefer it this way but, if you have a choice, I recommend picking one system or the other and stick to it!

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phew

I was taught the 'metric' system at school but my parents always used imperial measurments (as a lot of others did). When asked to estimate weights at school I couldn't estimate in 'grams' but when I estimated in the imperial 'oz' and converted (in my head) it to grams I was always very close to the actual weight.

I'm happy that I can still use the pounds etc - I can work in metric but I find it hard to work out how far/heavy something is in metric - convert it to imperial and I'm fine.

For the record - I'm in my early to mid thirties and I'm glad the UK can still keep some of its charm.

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Not of concern?

"NASA is reporting that they've found the likely cause for last week's loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter. It seems one of the engineering teams was using English units of measurement while another team was using Metric units. Getting this straight is rather important when designing navigation sytems for interplanetary spacecraft, one would think." (from slashdot)

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Max Velociry of Sheep in a Vaccuum

Was this determined experimentaly, and if so, is the Video available on YouTube?

I suspect its just a theoretical calculation extrapolation of max velocity of a sheep at sea level escaping a randy Welshman.

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I utterly despair of this rotten country

Joking apart, I think Britain deserves itself.

I don't know a single person who doesn't recognise the instant benefits of the metric system as "invented" by John Wilkins, in England back in the 17th century and since adopted the whole world over.

This reminds me, yet again, of a great cartoon I saw depicting the EU, represented by a large oval conference table with 14 chairs facing inwards, and one chair, UK facing outwards.

How the hell did we ever progress out of daub and wattle huts I'll never know.

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Re: "I'd be happy to get 0.5l when asking for a pint"

I wouldn't. I get through a lot of 500ml bottles, usually poured into pint glasses - they're what I would call an unacceptably short measure if it were served in a pub.

(Current UK legislation deems less than 539.6 ml as an offence)

"I'd walk a million miles for one of your smiles my Mammy!"

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Machines Don't Care

You only have to look at some items such as frozen peas, formerly available in a bag prominently labelled 4lb, then they added 1.81kg below it, then swapped the font sizes so that the 1.81kg is bigger than the 4lb. Still the same bag size though. Plenty of items still have both Imperial and metric measures on them, those of us who grew up with both just use whichever is most convenient at the time.

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Welcome to the...

... XXI Century

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RE Thank god we still got pints

i'm at the other side of the pond

we don't have pints here - we just have "normal" beers and a "large" beers

if somebody tries to order 0,5 liters of beer, i'm pretty sure that'll make headline news in the pub :D

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Anonymous Coward

Misinformation

MrWeeble

You are spreading misinformation yourself. The traders were convicted of selling goods in pounds, not of having uncalibrated scales.

The British Weights and Measures Association backed the traders appeal which they would not have done if the offense was for using uncalibrated scales.

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Heterometric

I have a curious thing where I cook weighing things in pounds and ounces and measuring fluids using metric, or sometimes doing it the other way round. Somehow mixed metraphors makes the quantities easier to conceptualise after being educated in metric and having various old cookery books.

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Oh for goodness' sake

So I have to continue trying to work out how many feet are in a mile, poles in a hectare or whatever ridiculous godforsaken out-of-date imperial measurement appears on road signs. I can quite understand having both old and new on greengrocer's labels, at least until the older generation die off; and beer in pints is equally acceptable as there's no need to convert it (at least you know exactly how much you're getting, as opposed to Belgian beers which come in different measures); but road signs continuing to be in miles only is frankly ridiculous.

Can't we at least have both miles and kilometres on road signs?

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Hourses for courses

When I'm on my bike I prefer miles, as I have no idea if 25km/hr is fast or slow, but I know 18m/hr is quite fast on the flat.

If I'm measuring something small, cm/mm is much easier than inches. 10 and 13/16th inches is MUCH harder to work with than 265mm, and metres & yards are abou the same.

When I'm walking up a hill I like to use km & metres, i.e. 4km along, 1000 metres up, makes working out how steep it is easy. Try that with 2.5 miles and 1,100 yards.

1kg = 2lbs ish. Couldn't be easier

Metric is much easier all round, but it's hard to stop your heading working in imperial , as I have been since I was born

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@Hans

"How the hell did we ever progress out of daub and wattle huts I'll never know"

We got invaded and had progress forced upon us, in a similar fashion to the EU "forcing" metric measurements on us (but without the needless deaths)

Frankly anyone not following the very simple and easy to abide by rules is a 'tard. If you want to sell in lbs/ozs you can do just that. Go to your local supermarket - they show everything in both £/kg and £/lb. As long as the £/kg is in bigger text they're fine.

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Anonymous Coward

Change the record

Yet again, it's those damned EU bureaucrats trying to force their system on us.

Oh, hang on, didn't we begin metrication several years before we joined the EU/EEC?

I'm tired of hearing this blamed on the EU. Still, never let the facts get in the way of some gold old EU-bashing!

(As long as I can still buy a pint of beer, the rest can go metric as far as I'm concerned.)

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Anonymous Coward

Sheer metricity

If we were to be fully metricised then surely we would have to metricise time - i.e. we'd have to switch to 100 seconds/minute - 100 minutes an hour - 100 hour days and we'd have to alter our soalr orbit to fit either 100 or 1000 days/ year, thus increasing the effective workload of the average brit! Whilst we are at it we could dump the 360 degree circle in favour of 100 degrees and that goes for latitude/longditude too!

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Just a waiting game...

Just wait for the old foges to die off then metric will take over.

Who (appart from a few old coffin dodgers) today talks in Sixpences and shillings etc ?

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Anonymous Coward

the point of imperial measures...

...is that they are easier to calculate mentally by people with limited numeracy skills, having base units with a greater range of factors than base10 does. Fair enough that argument would make more sense if all imperial measures actually had the same base, rather than 12 for ft and £, 16 for lb, 14 for st, etc. but each of those units has a unique and interesting history attached to their proliferation and weren't designed as part of a universal system.

Machines are much better at decimal calculations than people are. I used to be a croupier so had to do a lot of mental cenversions between chip values, stacks of chips, cash values etc. and there are a whole host of tricks you can use to make you a Countdown champion but you really have to use them on a daily basis or they go stale - believe me Baccarat was a lot easier to deal in the old money.

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If we have a common measuring system...

...is the next step a common language?

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Anonymous Coward

Sat Nav

As someone in his late 20s I too use both systems but not as effectively as people a few years older than me.

The only time that this becomes a pain is with Sat Nav as it cannot handle people like me who mix everything up. Why don't they have a setting for miles and metres? I don't understand these yard things as I never learnt them!

My system is simple really - if it is small it is metric (ie metres, grams) and if it is large it is imperial (ie miles and stone). At the in betweens everything is interchangeable so you can use kilograms and pounds and still be understood.

Surely the simplicity of this system means that it should adopted as an alternative to El Reg's perfectly good system?

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I don't see what there is to be proud about

There is absolutely no sense in keeping imperial measurements beyond some tokenism such as pints. I really don't understand why anyone is making such a fuss at all at preserving an outdated and confusing set of weights and measurements. Especially since the UK is mostly metric anyway. At the end of the day it just means that it will be easier for French, German, Italian, Polish etc. companies to do business with each other than bother with the hassle of the UK.

Ireland managed to convert to metric in less time than the UK and civilization did not collapse. The process was relatively straightforward certainly not worth fighting over. I'd also point out that Ireland managed to switch to Euros with barely any trouble at all.

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Great

So I can continue to measure speed in furlongs per fortnight then. Righto!

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Law

omg

I wish we would just go fully metric - it annoys the hell out of me when I get "Oh, arn't you dumb, you don't know how many *insert imp' unit* are in a *insert met' unit".

I grew up with metric... I don't know imperial very well, and it is confusing to try and learn it from a logical system. Why should I learn an imperial unit system just because some guy who's gonna be dead in 15 years can't be arsed changing his banana signs out of spite.

Sadly... old people messing up the rest of the UK because they cant be arsed learning the future standard, instead forcing people to learn 2 systems and then calling them stupid and blaming metric because they arn't quite sure about either.

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Anonymous Coward

Metric is coming, anyway.

As a young person, I don't care what you lot say about Imperial. We have been brought up on Metric now, so basically, when you old, moaning, miserable and nostalgic lot finally die, or just get to the old age where your opinion doesn't count anymore, we can finally get on and use SI units.

Why should be continue using Imperial, just 'cause "You" want to. And let's be totally honest, the ONLY reason you want to, is because you believe it's your "right".

Can't wait till your generation moves disappears! It's just a shame we have to wait at least 25 years for it to happen.

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Lets use both

I'm in my mid-twenties, so I seem to be of an age where both metric and imperial was taught at school. I'm quite happy to use which ever unit fits the job best, so there is no need to force either unit apon us.

If I am measuring a cut of wood for example, and it happens to fall exactly on 9inches on the tape measure, then I will measure the rest to 9 inches. No point in converting it into 22.86 centimetres.

If I am working out how far a car journey is going to be, then I want to do it in miles, because after a few years of driving, you get used to how far a mile is an how fast x miles per hour is. I cannot visualise how far away a kilometer is.

As for pints, that is something you can't ever take away from us. I can't imagine people going up to bars and asking for 568mls of larger or whatever it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No one on "the continent" give a toss about what people in the UK use...

I'd argue that....

I work on "the continent" and every time I use an imperial measure (more and more these days (just like I use more of my native accent and dialect as I'd noticed I'd been losing a lot of it over the time I've been here)) I get at least one sometimes three or four asking why we have to use imperial in the UK as its silly and metric makes so much more sense. As I dislike most of my co-workers I am perfectly happy to annoy them more and more.

I do agree though metric is simple to use and work with, however I always find imperial measures easier to visualise, its hard to picture in my mind a Kilowatt (over horsepower) or a meter (over feet and yards (obviously (really that was obvious))). Maybe that's why the most pervasive imperial measures are ones that visualisation is very useful, like distance, speed, volume and power.

On the point of .5l over a pint, I'm not too fond of it, here you get a bottle poured into a pint glass, and it looks like its already had a sip taken (if they use those .33l bottles it looks like its been spilled while you were walking from the bar)

In general I prefer my mixed usage, I don't want to not have the imperial ways, but I do enjoy working in metric for certain things, in the end, whatever is best will prevail, over time and more inane political discussion.

Blah

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@Chris

"NASA is reporting that they've found the likely cause for last week's loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter. It seems one of the engineering teams was using English units of measurement while another team was using Metric units. Getting this straight is rather important when designing navigation sytems for interplanetary spacecraft, one would think." (from slashdot)

I used to work for BAe at Hatfield where they designed the wings for the early Airbus aircraft. All the design at Hatfield was done in imperial, the drawings were then converted to metric to be sent to Airbus in Toulouse. The imperial drawings were used by the CNC mills in Hatfield which worked in inches to machine the main spars. The spars were then sent to Manhester where the wings were built, again in Imperial. Finally the wings were sent to Toulouse where they were mated with fuselage sections which had been manufactured in metric in France, Spain & Germany. It's a wonder any of the aircraft ever got off the ground.

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