January 5, 2013

Furlongs per Fortnight

Dr. Drang, making an unfamiliar, yet welcome argument in favor of old-school "English" units for measurement:

“I’ll also admit to a fondness for traditional units. They arose organically to meet specific needs. Inches are for things we hold in our hands, feet are for the buildings we live in, and miles are for our towns. There’s a certain rightness to using different units on different scales rather than just sliding a decimal point one way or the other. The metric system was imposed from above by an elite; customary units were crowdsourced.”

The metric system I learned in fifth grade simply didn't stick here in the US, arguably because it wasn't required. And although metric units are commonly used for many products (car parts and the tools to work on them, for example) I suspect nothing short of successful legislation changing product labeling will push Americans to make everyday use of milliliters, grams and kilos. In the mean time we'll get along just fine with the old units, which measure every bit as accurately, if oddly.

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