Lord Geoffrey Howe of Aberavon has demanded that the UK goes fully metric as soon as possible, describing the current mix of miles and kilometres and pints and litres as a "uniquely confusing shambles". Speaking yesterday in the House of Lords, the former chancellor and deputy prime minister insisted: "British weights and …
Re: Metric is OK for Johnny Foreigner...
Nah, that's where you'd stick her anus horribilis
I lament having to clarify this but I do know the correct reference is annus but no doubt some dickwad would feel compelled to point it out, well you don't have to now.
What's the problem; not hard to live with both surely? My main concern would be if beer is to be served in 500ml glasses, will the price go down accordingly? Nah, thought not.
It really is not a big deal to have both imperial and metric in use. In fact I would suggest there is a greater case to be made for aligning the UK and US imperial systems, but that doesn't need tampering with either!
For Christ's sake, I ride a vintage Vespa that only has a speedo in Km/h and odometer in Km, yet I travel on roads measured in mile. Big deal. Use what feels right for you and what you understand best.
and talking about cars...
It's not just the MPGs versus litres per 100 km, but also the power in BHP should translate into KW...
but no manufactures quotes it as is comes out at a lower value :)
1 HP = 0.7457 KW
Re: and talking about cars...
But cars nowadays don't quote horsepower, they quote that crucially important figure of PS ('Pferd Stark').
Oh, hang on, when I translate that from German it comes out as Horse Power. Damn!
Imperial is superior to metric for almost all daily usages. Metric is superior for scientific stuff where everyone is using calculators and don't care that it generates awkward fractions every time you look at it.
Yeah, a 7/8" inch bolt (if you were to be American using imperial) you totally know what half that width is when finding a radius clearance then multiply out for the five bolts you're drilling in a row.
SO much easier than taking a 17mm bolt, divide by 2 (13.5) multiply by 5 (67.5mm).
That I could do almost instantly in my head. In imperial that would be... um 7/8ths in half is 7/16ths, times five is 35/16ths, which is er 2 and 3/16ths.
You're right. That's so intuitive and easy to do. Made my head explode it was so much easier and more intuitive. How could anyone not see that?
So far there's been NOT ONE SINGLE GOOD REASON to measure beer in pints. Measure it in ml, sell it in a glass marked to 570ml, which is a pint.
What is the problem? Jeeezuz. Daily Mail reading Brits.
"What is the problem? Jeeezuz. Daily Mail reading Brits."
This kind of non-story is there to sell newspapers, froth-up the natives and divert attention from real issues/problems.
So, on the one hand, you have 7/8, half of which is 7/16. That was pretty easy. And on the other hand, you have 17mm, half of which is 8.5 (that's close to 13.5, I guess?).
Right, so, multiply this by five - 35/16, right, easy. 8.5 * 5 is... hang on, carry the two... 42.5mm. I guess that's kind of close to 67.5 mm, right?
Which side were you arguing for, by the way?
"You're right. That's so intuitive and easy to do. "
Yes, it was. If you find that difficult you shouldn't be allowed to use sharp tools in the first place.
I hate to tell you this but imperial measures were used easily and quickly by uneducated masses for about a thousand years BECAUSE they are so easy to use. Perhaps the problem is that today's education system isn't capable of producing people with a grasp of simple arithmetic equal to a mediaeval peasants?
Much as I'm a metric bloke (although I'm 45 I was taught metric at primary school - thanks Blackfirs, Congleton) I have to agree with this. The 'human scale' imperial units are more useful. Saying something is 'a couple of inches' is easier than '5 centimetres'. Same with a foot - it's just easier than saying 'about sixty centimetres'.
A lot of everyday measurements are just talk and the smaller imperial units lend themselves to casual conversation and inaccuracy.
I completed my conversion to metric when I switched from stones to kg several years ago. Just took the plunge and switched my scales over. But somehow feet and inches keep straying into conversations. Credit where it's due :)
"Uniquely confusing shambles"...
...but I LIKE a uniquely confusing shambles. And it seems to describe most of our institutions perfectly.
"Lord Howe noted that he'd been responsible for the metrication programme, as minister for consumer affairs in the Edward Heath government"
So it's your fault it's in a shambles! If you'd kept you mouth shut we'd all be using a single system. Imperial.
I'm quite happy with the mix. I can talk measurements with the yanks, and the Europeans, and at my own choosing be complete incomprehensible to both!
Maybe Lord Howe should go and have some fun with the motor industry... Has he checked out the specification of tyres recently (or ever in his life)...
mm width, profile %age of width, rim size in inches.
Would you rather drive 27 miles
or sit in 43.45 kilometers of queue caused by pissed OAP's who no longer know where anything is?
Leave it well alone.
Although dividing by ten is nominally easier, imperial measurements have a sense of history and utility about them. An inch is related to the width of a thumb, a yard to do with the length of the arm to the tip of the nose, a pint, something to do with the size of a man's stomach. A furlong, or "furrow-long" was related to the distance a horse could plow, and eight of these made a mile.
So you get your shiny, new metric system, but there are flaws. I have yards, you have metres. A third of my yard is a foot (about the size of my foot, as it happens). A third of your meter is 33.33333cm. Roughly. So, for simplicity, the builders and tradesmen have to invent the "metric foot" (30cm).
Yes, they're somewhat anachronistic, but imperial measurements connect people to their roots, and it would be an act of cultural vanalism to criminalise them. Most people can use both systems quite adequately. My dad used to be an engineer and would commonly use millimetres and thousands of an inch in the same measurement.
have a sense of history and utility about them
so did slavery.
Absolutely spot on. I still am an engineer (for a few more years!) and also use whatever measuring standard best fits the particular task. Metric, Imperial, Ruler-widths, and will quite happily mix something like 6' 5mm. All the other engineers over 50 do the same. You should see the faces of the kids when asking a size get the reply 3metres & 10p
What we've lost is the ability to think, to use whatever is available. People today are too inflexible. If things are not exactly as they expect they go into a hissy fit instead of trying to actually SOLVE problems.
Feckin' ada, is anyone really confused by metric vs. imperial? Really? Can't help but think we've got bigger problems to be considering than what unit I buy milk in (which is, anyway, always litres thanks to the laws passed more years ago than I care to remember, just not an integer number of litres). FFS just deal with it, leave it alone and go off and sort out the national debt or something...
We will all happily buy milk, beer or red wine in whichever standardised unit Tesco's chooses to stick it in, be that metric, Imperial, US or Sumerian Ducks.
The advantage of switching to metric is that producers only need to only conform to one standard of measurement for the whole of the EU market. Consumers benefit because it should be easier to compare prices within that same single market.
These days the only numbers that I ever get to work with are hexadecimal and that's only thanks to IP6.
Re: None required
Not just the EU market. Every market in the world except the USA - and even the USA uses metric for a lot of things if only they knew it :)
More likely what happened...
Howe: "Grumble-Grumble... I want a litre of beer!"
Bar person (Servant in Howe's Eyes): "We only serve pints, sir."
Howe: "Grumble...Grumble, I introduced the metric system to this country, I should be able to buy a litre."
Bar person (Servant in Howe's Eyes): "We only serve pints, sir."
Howe: "576ml of beer then."
Howe, Back to the conversation: "And we were v-ery, ... v-ery drunk!"
Beer. Mmmm, beer!
Beer drinkers beware - if you have to renew or replace your pewter tankard, they're making the buggers in 500ml sizes now as well as pints!
@Howe - while you're at it, we need a rewrite of Grimms (replace ell with 50cm) and Stevenson (pieces of ten).
Maybe I shouldn't mention money, the Talers, Dubloons, Batzen, Kronen, Libra and of course Drachmas are well unified under the Euro, and that just made the real problem more transparent: that is too many politicians addressing the wrong problem too late.
Re: Strange units
111 120 Kilometers Under the Sea just doesn't have the same ring to it...
"It was convenient to have an acre as the area a man could plough in a day"
It may be only an example but how on earth is that relevant in todays world, how many men do you know who plough often enough to judge that. And is that measure based on ploughing with a tractor? a horse? manually?
It's relevant because that is your heritage. It connects you to at least a part of the wisdom upon which the world that you now know is built. Should we reinvent the arce every time a better tractor is invented?
I figured out the problem
Instead of going for an Empirical system of units (which would be a very British thing to do and give us Metric) we've confused it with an Imperial system of units, in a 150 year phoneme mishap. Either that or we just can't stand the idea of adopting something we're centuries too late to re-market as our own ;-)
-cheers from julz
Let's go ALL the way...
Let's change ALL our numbers to binary - only two digits to remember, none or those confusing 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 & 9 figures...
Re: Let's go ALL the way...
Funnily enough, a lot of the Imperial system is binary.
2 of this =1 of that,
2 of that = 1of those
Apparently that was too complex for the French.
Re: Let's go ALL the way...
And other powers of 2
Eight furlongs to the mile.
(and its near enough 5 furlongs to the km as makes no difference)
Sixteen ounces to the pound
Eight fluid drams to the fluid ounce
Eight pints to the gallon
Let's stop driving on the wrong side of the road while we're at it.
Isn't Imperial really the original metric system?
As brought over from the continent in the first place?
In fact the Romans rather insisted, their legions marching distances measured in thousands of paces (mille) and deploying in units that started in base 10 (leading to decurian, centurian etc, and then later on 10 cohorts in a Legion, the reason the cohort was around 600 men was probably as that is the maximum number of individuals about which people generally can remember any detail, necessary for good leadership and the reason many units remain that sort of size today)
About time too. Nobody else seems to have a problem with SI. I suggest as an interim measure we scribe a line at the 500ml. point on all our existing 568ml. glasses (which will give about a 13% oversize for those who like a head on their beer), and post up ready-reckoner charts so that pub customers can see they are not being cheated.
Let’s try a real-world example to show why SI just works: fixing 6 shelves in an alcove 2.28 m. high, evenly spaced and with the bottom shelf 1 m. above floor level. I’ll be using a commonly-available tape measure marked in metres, centimetres and millimetres, and an ordinary 8-digit calculator from a pound store. Key presses are in bold, figures displayed on the calculator are in italics.
2.28 [-] 1 [=] (get the height of the shelves plus the space above top shelf)
[÷] 6 [=] (divide this by the number of shelves)
0.2133333 (the spacing between each shelf and the next one)
[+] [+] (make this a constant for addition. Now, each subsequent press of the [=] key will add 0.2133333 to whatever is on the calculator’s display).
1 [=] (we marked the position of the bottom shelf at 1m. Now we want to start by adding 0.2133333 to 1, to get the position of the second shelf up.)
1.2133333 (mentally round this to 1.213 — the same precision as the tape measure — and mark the position of the second shelf on the wall)
1.4166667 (mentally round this to 1.417 and mark 3rd shelf. Note in passing that this calculator seems to be using more precision than it can display. This is not a bad thing.)
1.64 (mark 4th shelf)
1.8533333 (mark 5th shelf)
2.0666667 (mark last shelf)
[=] (one final time just to check; if all has gone to plan, we should get the height of the ceiling)
2.28 (Yay! Already time for a brew and a smoke, while you’re still fart-arsing about trying to subtract 3 ft. 3 3/8 in. from 7 ft 5 3/4 in. Hey, what was that noise? It sounded a bit like a space probe crashing …..)
Re: Long Overdue
Why would anyone be foolish enough to agree to paying for 68ml of bubbles with their short measure pint ?
And any workman will tell you you can argue for as much accuracy as you like but in the final analysis everything will be out of true including the alcove walls and you'll have to have the skill to make it workable at the time of creating the shelves.
Re: Long Overdue
Or in simpler terms, measure up a metre and put the rest at 8 inch intervals.
That's allowing for the fact that the eye won't spot the difference. And for the artex drips off the plaster at the top that mean your alcove isn't quite 7ft 6in
Can you imagine...
the BOFH's boss popping off for a 2 LITER lunch ? That would be a bit much, even for me (but I will sacrifice my liver in the name of Science). Of course, Lord Geof would see to it that there would be no price increases due to the change in serving size... wouldn't he ?
Beer because, well, it's BEER !
Do I like metrics?
1 cubic meter of water is approximately 1000kg within a standard human temperature range I guess? Me 70's kid - 0.1" (2.54mm) 7400 ics with some proper not lead free solder will always be fun
i do not mind pints gallons ( US or UK) feet and inches and pounds for big stuff, but i prefer to stick to metric mm when doing smaller stuff, i no longer use stones to say my weight, i use pounds living in the us i have never use KG despite being born and raised and taught decimal, i know rough translations for each conversion, as most people do, the cup thing is wierd tho, but when taken in the aspect of portion sizes (most of the time they recommend about a cup of this or that when service loose food like peas corn cereal etc, it is actually a nice size, just right, it is a shame most people never read that stuff and pile it on their plate, sorry trough. i think i would be happier with one system, but as it is it is no real problem dealing with both, i do not think they should change a pint, as has been said the volume will go down the price will remain the same, it happened before when we screwed up the money, it will happen when we screw up the measure, besides, we would then have to rip up all the road signs and replace them with metric equivilents, and it would be interesting to see if the people screaming for change in power have any interest whatsoever in the companies that produce said signs. i like swapping to km in the car while driving coz it looks like i am doing 120 down the freeway, which is something my car can nly dream of. and besides setting the cruise to 100km/h is much nicer them the 62 mph or so, hell i just want the freedom to choose whatever i bloody want! metric imperial, bra sizes, whatever!
Downvoted for lack of paragraphs, capitalisation and punctuation.
Sorry. I'm in a bad mood.
Lord Howe is right. It's a mess, and I'm surprised so many El Reg readers are in favour of carrying on with the mess.
Notice that your "pint down the local" isn't a pint unless you drink what that pub has on draught. If you like Guinness but they don't have it on draught, you'll be served with a 500ml tin tipped into a pint glass.
Same with Grolsch, and any other favourite of your that isn't on tap.
It's been like that for years, and I assume no-one's noticed or cared. Certainly you'd still *call* it "going for a pint" even if (under this strange arrangement) you've been drinking half-litres all along.....
Exactly, and beer from the supermarket and off-license is always metric. You don't think can and bottle manufacturers want to make special pint sizes for just one country, do you?
Beer is sold in the UK in 33CL or 50CL/half litre bottles or a 50CL/half litre can and has been for god knows how long. Only exception is the pub which still sells some products in imperial.
More fool anyone who goes to the pub and buys tins of 'beer' !
Ermm, yes they do
Several brands of beer are available in Pint cans and bottles. Wife beater, for one, can be bought in pint bottles.
Re: Ermm, yes they do
Mackesons stout used to be in half pint bottles, don't think that's changed
It's about time
The old imperial system is being eroded year on year (you can no longer buy screws in imperial sizes, no more No10 x 2"; they are now 5mm x 50mm.) Its about time to change to the metric system for the few remaining things that are still measured by the imperial system.
Kilometres whizz by quicker on the European motorways, psychologically driving 500Km seems easier than 300Miles.
I would however miss the good old British pint, maybe the 1/2, 2/3 or 3/4L would be a suitable replacement. 1L would just get too warm before finishing it in our gloriously warm metric British summers!!!
Yes the time has come by a clear country mile, sorry clear country 1.609 kilometre to go completely metric.
Try buying Pipe
I'll have 6m of 4 inch pipe please! You will never get rid of imperial measures, our entire infrastructure is built on imperial measures, train gauges, pipe sizes etc... When measurements need to be accurate, and you look at fractions of a metric unit to measure what is/was an imperial one, you actually get into a fraction of a metric unit and errors start to send you out of tolerance before you f**k up. Where as an exact imperial unit is simple to measure an imperial size.
To turn completely metric the answer is simple, don't change our measures, just change the metric system. A metric litre is a 2special name" for a cubic decimeter, it is not a SI unit, it is defined as 1kg of water when at 4 degs Centigrade. We just need to define our common imperial units in the same way.
A beer pint is a measure of beer served in pint glasses.
A milk pint is a measure of milk when stored in a pint milk bottle.
A mile is a measure of distance to drive, and is defined as the distance you can travel in 1 minuet at a speed of 60mph.
Re: Try buying Pipe
Ehm... train gauges are defined in metric of course, they are used by engineers. Engineers switched to metric before the general public did. The official 'Standard Gauge' for trains, the one the UK uses together with most of the world, is defined as 1,435 mm.
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