Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

White House: Use Metric If You Want, We Don't Care

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the not-yielding-an-inch dept.

United States 1145

Earlier this year we discussed a petition on the White House's 'We The People' site asking the administration to adopt the metric system as the standard system of measurement in the U.S. Today, the administration issued a disappointing response. Simply put: they're not going to do anything about it. They frame their response as a matter of preserving a citizen's choice to adopt whatever measurement system he wants. Quoting Patrick D. Gallagher of the National Institute of Standards and Technology: "... contrary to what many people may think, the U.S. uses the metric system now to define all basic units used in commerce and trade. At the same time, if the metric system and U.S. customary system are languages of measurement, then the United States is truly a bilingual nation. ... Ultimately, the use of metric in this country is a choice and we would encourage Americans to continue to make the best choice for themselves and for the purpose at hand and to continue to learn how to move seamlessly between both systems. In our voluntary system, it is the consumers who have the power to make this choice. So if you like, "speak" metric at home by setting your digital scales to kilograms and your thermometers to Celsius. Cook in metric with liters and grams and set your GPS to kilometers. ... So choose to live your life in metric if you want, and thank you for signing on."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Start here (5, Insightful)

GeoSanDiego (703197) | about a year ago | (#43817091)

A good place to start would be on all of the federal highway signs.

Re:Start here (5, Interesting)

countach44 (790998) | about a year ago | (#43817103)

Actually, there are limited places in the US that do this: Metric Road Signs in the US [colostate.edu] I think this is something that could be voted on at the municipality/state level and could eventually work its way nationally.

Re:Start here (4, Insightful)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year ago | (#43817141)

"55 MPH" seems fine to me. I don't have a problem with adding KPH readings to the signs, but if they want to claim that they are truly "bilingual" with measurements, then having both MPH and KPH would make the most sense...

Re:Start here (5, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43817273)

When Canada was switching to metric, dual signage was common. The km/h value was shown first, and the mph was shown in a smaller (but still quite readable) font below it. Usage of "km/h" or "mph" was explicit, to ensure there was no ambiguity.

This transition period lasted for quite some time, and after a while, the signs were ultimately replaced with speed limits listing strictly in km/h (and often the "km/h" was no longer present as well).

Re:Start here (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817317)

The metric system is not just a set of units; it's also a notation system. You should write "km/h".

We used to have those. (3, Insightful)

Molochi (555357) | about a year ago | (#43817165)

Be we decided that provinciality was a smaller sacrifice than the cost of the paint.

Re:We used to have those. (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about a year ago | (#43817309)

...or was it?

Re:Start here (4, Informative)

waddgodd (34934) | about a year ago | (#43817189)

They did that once, ISTR the mileage (kilometerage?) sign on I-15 between Blackfoot and Pocatello, Idaho being in both Miles and Kilometers in about '75-'77ish (I was a bit young at the time), but since it was during the Carter administration, of course it HAD to be undone because fuck Democrats. I can't remember exactly when I-15 signs were changed over to strictly miles, but I think it was the late eighties. So until we get over this two-party backbiting festival in DC, it does us no good to even try to do good things.

Re:Start here (-1, Troll)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about a year ago | (#43817261)

Just a big waste of taxpayer money for something purely cosmetic. It would a frivolous waste of money we dont have to fix something thats not broken. I already pay too many taxes as it is. We need to stop spending on frivolous crap like this. It would confuse the hell out of everyone and there are no real reasons or benefits, just nonsense excuses. I actually find the english system to be perfectly fine and useable on road signs. No need to fix something thats not broken. Take your awkward, unnatural metric system back to europe where it belongs. i like the mile and foot just fine and I actually prefer this on our signs.

Re:Start here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817363)

Wow. Are you for real?

Re:Start here (5, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#43817395)

Take your awkward, unnatural metric system back to europe where it belongs

I agree this is nothing the USA can afford to do right now. After all, you need that money to fight the drug war and build more aircraft carriers.

However, while the metric system is many things, 'awkward and unnatural' isn't one of them. You look up 'awkward' in the dictionary and there's the Imperial system. 5280 feet in a mile? 16 ounces in a pound? Water freezes at 32 degrees?

What the hell? It's like if my toddler invented a system of weights and measures.

Re:Start here (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43817433)

It's not a waste of money if the Feds simply say that any new signs paid for with Federal highway funds must have SI units as their primary measure. They should also require auto manufacturers to mark speedometers with km/h (although most already do).

The SI has officially been""the preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and commerce" since 1975, so it's well past time to make that mean something.

No sympathy for innumerates who find it difficult, because it is in fact much simpler.

Re:Start here (2)

Microsift (223381) | about a year ago | (#43817393)

And don't forget bank thermometers

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817093)

first

Re:first (-1, Troll)

chilvence (1210312) | about a year ago | (#43817183)

How does it feel to be wasting your life?

Re:first (4, Funny)

Beerdood (1451859) | about a year ago | (#43817215)

first

That must be a imperial first, not a metric first.

The Spin was Awesome! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817099)

How can you fight this idea, if it's all about multiculturalism in a bilingual country without receiving a negative label?

Re:The Spin was Awesome! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817203)

Only a left wing extremist, America hating, Kenyan, terroristic, neo-communist, piece of scum like Obama would be pushing this hard for a multicultural approach to a system of measurement. I demand that my representatives in the House and Senate do everything they can to stop the President in this latest push to destroy what few remaining decent things remain in this once great nation. We should immediately adopt the metric system as a means to protest this naked grab for power by a mean spirited and hateful administration bent on the destruction of democracy and the last remnants of a Christian faith that sustain us. (We should also outlaw counting by base 12... just because.)

Re:The Spin was Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817227)

The same way you fight all other outdated cultural norms.

Re:The Spin was Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817329)

I suspect a profit motive. Department funding for measurement programs are gladly accepted; yet the let it go, live and let live attitude lets them off the hook when it comes to tasks involving implementation and enforcement.

Re:The Spin was Awesome! (2, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#43817331)

Well, given that this administration is about campaigning, not governance, it's clear that metric proponents need to recast themselves as a victim group, and start delivering some votes.
Strong possibilities include:
  • Tying traditional measurements to Tradition, which is evil in the face of Holy Progress
  • Pointing out that 'feet', 'yards', and 'miles' are associated with patriarchal oppression structures.
  • And don't neglect the race card. Those units were implemented by white males, and are thus tinged with the scourge of slavery.

I'm having the vague feeling that I can't tell if I'm trolling here, or drafting notes for a Progressive strategy session.

Re:The Spin was Awesome! (3, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43817417)

No, no, you're not trolling at all. You carry the 'white man's burden' with total aplomb and grace.

So for once they gave a sane answer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817107)

So basically: use what works best instead of us forcing a one-size fits all approach on you. If Obama followed that philosophy more often he might find being President to be a little easier.

Not my choice (1)

watermark (913726) | about a year ago | (#43817111)

You can't put XBMC to Celsius unless you tell it you don't live in the US.

What were you expecting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817113)

Did you expect that the White House administration was going to somehow force businesses and residents of the US to start using metric? I don't really get what the point of this petition was. Was it just to point out to everyone that it's dumb that we don't natively use metric in our households and businesses? I think most people are already starting to believe that, as indicated by the presence of the petition itself.

The metric system is the tool of the devil! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817117)

The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it.
----
The Simpsons, Abraham Simpson

Re:The metric system is the tool of the devil! (4, Funny)

jrmcferren (935335) | about a year ago | (#43817197)

Mod Parent +5 funny! Anyway as of the last time I was in my auto I was getting 532,224 rods per hogshead which is low compared to 544320. Of course I've been driving where the speed limit ranges from 27,200 furlongs per fortnight to 107,520 furlongs per fortnight. However when the school zone lights are flashing it is a piddly ass 40320 furlongs per fortnight even in a 107,520 furlongs per fortnight zone.

Re:The metric system is the tool of the devil! (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43817265)

having a hard time with your units, how many piss pots per parsec is that?

But your ass is going to jail if you have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817119)

more than one kilogram of weed.

Re:But your ass is going to jail if you have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817391)

Do you even know how much fucking weed that is!? Nobody, but nobody, has ever carried around anywhere near a kilogram of weed to share with their buds.

Sure beats jail time... (-1, Troll)

jaymzter (452402) | about a year ago | (#43817121)

Isn't that how the use of the metric system was enforced in Great Britain? Good to know there are so many people that want to use the force of government to get their way on such piddling matters.

Re:Sure beats jail time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817269)

I convert stuff to imperial all the time, so far I've not been imprisoned for it. We still drink pints, buy eggs by the dozen and talk about fuel efficiency in miles per gallon. Older people routinely convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, measuring jugs come with both fl oz and ml markings... no prison time.

Re:Sure beats jail time... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817305)

The UK mandates that things being sold have to provide metric units - they can provide other units as well if they wish. This actually makes a lot of sense, as it protects customers from misleading labelling. I could create my own units that at a glance will look similar and use those instead, giving customers less product for their money.

Re:Sure beats jail time... (3, Informative)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | about a year ago | (#43817409)

The EU single market mandates that you must be able to buy and sell in metric, which is logical since you can't really have a common market without common units. You can also use whatever other units you like and as such many places use imperial units in preference to metric units, reverting to them only when necessary.

Road signs are still mph, horse races are still miles and furlongs and beer is sold by the pint so I think we're happily confused on matters of units this side of the pond.

WTF is the administration supposed to do? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817127)

The petition site isn't a method for legislative fiat. If you want the metric system adopted talk to your Congress person. The president can't force adoption of the metric system. Jesus, people, the president can't even enter bills into Congress and you want him to just pass the fucking law personally? You have representatives for that.

Missing the Point? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817129)

Wasn't one of the most famous NASA blunders [wikipedia.org] caused because two parties couldn't agree on a single standard?

Re:Missing the Point? (5, Interesting)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#43817327)

Not really, no. If you actually read what happened, the "metric mixup" was a contributing factor but not the critical factor, especially since the people knew it was off course and decided not to correct course. From the very article you linked:

The discrepancy between calculated and measured position, resulting in the discrepancy between desired and actual orbit insertion altitude, had been noticed earlier by at least two navigators, whose concerns were dismissed. A meeting of trajectory software engineers, trajectory software operators (navigators), propulsion engineers, and managers, was convened to consider the possibility of executing Trajectory Correction Maneuver-5, which was in the schedule. Attendees of the meeting recall an agreement to conduct TCM-5, but it was ultimately not done.

But "We mixed up feet and meters! Whoopsie!" while embarrassing, is not quite so embarrassing as "We canceled the scheduled maneuver that would have saved the ship, even though we knew something was very wrong." Plus, it was an easy headline for the media. There were a legion of problems with the Mars Climate Orbiter that had nothing to do with unit systems. NASA was just in full-on derp mode at that time. Likewise, the Mars Polar Lander [wikipedia.org] , which did not have a similar unit-conversion error, also crashed a few months later.

Makes perfect sense to me (3, Insightful)

bokmann (323771) | about a year ago | (#43817131)

The country doesn't have a national language, despite the fact that the majority speak English... so why do we think the Federal government could just mandate metric? Hell, even if they tried, a bunch of angry southern congressman would probably cry 'states rights'. Thanks Obama.

The cooking channel, the car dealers, gas stations and everyone reading this response could start speaking metric tomorrow if they wanted too... about the only thing that would seem awkward on the green highway mile markers and speed limit signs... and we already largely ignore those...

If you think you care so much about metric, why can't you tell me how many liters per 100 km your car takes? Its *your* car... no one is stopping you.

Re:Makes perfect sense to me (3, Insightful)

Chuckstar (799005) | about a year ago | (#43817155)

Agreed. Why is this response considered so "disappointing"?

Re:Makes perfect sense to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817217)

The country doesn't have a national language, despite the fact that the majority speak English... so why do we think the Federal government could just mandate metric? Hell, even if they tried, a bunch of angry southern congressman would probably cry 'states rights'. Thanks Obama.

The cooking channel, the car dealers, gas stations and everyone reading this response could start speaking metric tomorrow if they wanted too... about the only thing that would seem awkward on the green highway mile markers and speed limit signs... and we already largely ignore those...

If you think you care so much about metric, why can't you tell me how many liters per 100 km your car takes? Its *your* car... no one is stopping you.

a full tank gives me 600ish km, so, 1 lt per 10km

Re:Makes perfect sense to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817381)

Well, about 20 MPG, so...

1) Invert. 1/20 Gal/mi = 0.05Gal/mi
2) Convert volume. 1/20 Gal = 1/5L = 0.2L
3) Convert distance. 1mi = 1.67km
4) Combine. 0.2L/1.67km
5) Reduce. 0.12L/1km
6) Multiply(*100). 12L/100km.

Not hard. Tedious, but not hard. This is all stuff you should be able to do easily, even with a dropout education (age 16 here, which means mid-10th grade).

Re:Makes perfect sense to me (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about a year ago | (#43817389)

9-10L/100km for gasoline and 13-14L/100km for LPG (which in my country is about half the price of gasoline).

Zero is Still Zero (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817133)

'Zero' is still 'zero' whether measured in metric or standard. Why does that matter? Because that's exactly how much I care about how the White House feels about this.

We have so many more important things to concern ourselves with than what unit of measure we're using. The most important unit of measure, lives, doesn't seem to measure up to what the government thinks the most important unit of measure is: dollars.

Zero isn't Zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817259)

Zero Celsius is 32F. But other than that I agree with you. Temperature should be measured in Kelvin anyways.

Re:Zero is Still Zero (1)

PaulBu (473180) | about a year ago | (#43817293)

'Zero' is still 'zero' whether measured in metric or standard.

Well, no!

Not if you are talking about temperature measured in degrees C vs. F vs. K!

Agreed with the rest of your comment though...

Paul B.

Makes sense (5, Funny)

knotprawn (1935752) | about a year ago | (#43817137)

Not yielding an inch, are they? Imagine the impact it would have on Subway.

Re:Makes sense (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43817211)

not really, you can look up articles to see the normal variation of subway's bun. could be the "303 mm sandwich" or something

Re:Makes sense (1)

knotprawn (1935752) | about a year ago | (#43817285)

Worthy idea. Just did that. Turned this [gawker.com] up. Friday night, and I'm on a thread about standards. Makes me want to pound myself and tear things limb from limb.

Re:Makes sense (1)

gmb61 (815164) | about a year ago | (#43817231)

Not yielding an inch, are they? Imagine the impact it would have on Subway.

I agree, asking for a 30.48 centimeter sandwich instead of a footlong just wouldn't work.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817297)

Well, at least in Europe, they are called Sub 15 and Sub 30. It works for us! ;-)

Re:Makes sense (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#43817341)

Just tell Congressmen that their dicks will seem longer in metric. They'll pass a law for going metric.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817343)

Here in Germany they sell them as 30 cm and 15 cm sandwiches.

both are bastardized. (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#43817145)

Every time I see someone write decimal feet and fractional meters I must conclude that point is mostly lost.

Re:both are bastardized. (4, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a year ago | (#43817233)

Frankly, decimal is kind of a cruddy system. It was a bad call in the first place to use base 10. Yeah, it's good for counting on your fingers, but it's only cleanly divisible by 1, 2, 5 and 10. Base 12 would have been a much better choice, it's cleanly divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12.

I say we ditch metric, imperial and the decimal system as well.

Re:both are bastardized. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817299)

All good bases are powers of 2 you insensitive clod!

Re:both are bastardized. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817377)

We use radix=12 for inches=>feet

Let's apply that to other government programs. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817153)

Now, if they would only apply that freedom of choice to their other policies: "Ultimately, participation in Obamacare, Social Security and, Medicare is this country is a choice and we would encourage Americans to continue to make the best choice for themselves..."

Yeah, right...

Re:Let's apply that to other government programs. (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about a year ago | (#43817237)

Hospitals aren't going to turn away critically ill people. And more importantly, the insurance companies need to make sure they get their dough.

Really Already Metric (3, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43817169)

The Omnibus Foreign Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 amended the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 and stated the metric system was "the Preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and commerce". Also said the federal government has a responsibility to assist industry and especially small business, as it voluntarily converts to the metric system .

Metric system is of course taught in U.S. schools, even since the early 70s (yes, I was there)

By trying to make everyone happy, no one is happy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817177)

One advantage of a common system is uniform communication. While I'm sure we'd all love to "speak metric at home," it wouldn't help us explain what we need when we go to the grocery store for 2 kilos of flour.

English system is fine (-1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about a year ago | (#43817187)

Most companies already label their products with both systems which is just fine. As for roadsigns, the cost would be far too great, and it wouldnt be worth it for what is basically a cosmetic change, and I think would actually make things worse, I do not think metric is a better system in daily use. I also find the English miles unit size to be more natural, it may be because the English system developed out of practical use in daily applications while the metric was designed rather divorced from these things for scientific purposes. We are all very used the English system and easily can understand and visualize its units, why fix something that works just fine because it doesnt fit some purists subjective idea of symettricity.

I actually think the English system is better for daily use, the measurement units seem more natural to me than the metric ones. Metric is better for science applications. I am not for wasting resources and adopting a Metric system which has unit sizes which while may seem more logical are actually far more awkward.

government agencies already do use metric system inside the government. However, a government cannot ban private companies from using another system other than metric.

So I am opposed to any further move away from the English units.

Re:English system is fine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817239)

So you always want to buy 2 sets of wrenches?

Re:English system is fine (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817303)

I actually think the English system is better for daily use, the measurement units seem more natural to me than the metric ones.

O_o

Natural for what? The only advantage the English system has is that lots of lazy-brained people are accustomed to it.

Re:English system is fine (1)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#43817429)

I did see an awesome comment here on /. on an earlier story on the topic. It was something like:

"Fahrenheit is a wonderfully human temperature scale: 0 degrees is too damn cold, and 100 degrees is too damn hot."

I actually pretty much agree with this; Fahrenheit much more nicely covers the range of temperatures that a lot of places experience than does Celsius. The much-vaunted pegging of the Celcius scale at the melting and boiling points of water doesn't really matter one iota in day-to-day life; when I want to make pasta, I don't put a thermometer in the pot of water and say "yup, it's at 100 degC now, must be boiling; I just wait until it's bubbly."

Re:English system is fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817387)

I also find the English miles unit size to be more natural, it may be because the English system developed out of practical use in daily applications

Like the Tudor money system [youtube.com] ?

Cooking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817191)

No no no, I'm in Canada and love metric, but you don't use it for cooking.. use cups and tablespoons and shit.

Re:Cooking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817383)

shit? I don't think I want to eat at your place...

Re:Cooking (2)

lisaparratt (752068) | about a year ago | (#43817413)

You mean the metric cup of 250ml, the metric tbsp of 15ml, and the metric tsp of 5ml?

It's the american way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817205)

It's almost like choosing between roman numerals and the decimal system. There's a slight learning curve, but the metric system is far superior for math and doesn't really have any drawbacks. Forcing people to make the smart long term choice is not the American way, though, so the US will be stuck in with two systems for a very long time.

did one right (1)

charlesr44403 (1504587) | about a year ago | (#43817209)

It is rare for me to agree with the present administration but they got this one exactly right. In the UK merchants were punished for still using old weights and measures. I would really hate to see that here. Not our way.

Re:did one right (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43817425)

It is rare for me to agree with the present administration but they got this one exactly right. In the UK merchants were punished for still using old weights and measures. I would really hate to see that here. Not our way.

Well, technically, when the old system of weights and measures ewnt out, you HAD to convert. Because otherwise it meant you were possibly ripping off people using an uncalibrated scale.

If you look at your gas pump or grocery pricing scale, you'll find a calibration sticker on them that tells you when the unit was last measured and approved for trade use.

It's why your bathroom scale says "not for trade use" on it - it's not calibrated and what it shows is not guaranteed.

And using an uncalibrated scale for trade is considered fraud - I'm sure you'll be pissed if the pump said you pumped in 10 gallons of gas, and in reality, it only pumped in 9, thus cheating you that gallon (and $3-4, depending on where you are). Or if you bought a pound of meat that really was 15oz instead.

In the UK, all they had to do was simply declare the imperial scales and uncalibrated (and only use metric calibration tools), at which point yes, the shop really was committing fraud.

Hell, we see it today - where a 4 litre bottle of milk gets shrunk to 3.79 litres (which conveniently, is a gallon).

In the mean time. JIS screws and screwdrivers (1)

aoeu (532208) | about a year ago | (#43817219)

are unknown in the US.

Put subject here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817313)

What are unknown in the US? The first part of your sentence got cut off for some reason.

Good (0)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | about a year ago | (#43817221)

Do we really need the administration wasting time on this?

That's completely chickenshit. (1)

gatesstillborg (2633899) | about a year ago | (#43817223)

Yeah, the main thing to start with is driving mileage. They aren't doing much with metric if that (ie public facing) is still English, and only internal govt stuff is metric.

Another worthless waste of time ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817225)

They complain that the government spends too much money on dumb things. Then they want the government to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars so that the road signs are all in km instead of miles...

Free to chose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817235)

The government is letting people make their own decisions? So it ain't so!
BTW, the English system works very nicely for cooking, making it easy to halve or double recipes (e.g., 4 tablespoons in a 1/4 cup). Metric is not good for that at all, although it's marginally easier for determining ratios of ingredients.

Re:Free to chose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817289)

It's pretty damned easy to divide 500 milliliters by two... Is three digits too much math for your little brain?

The great thing about standards... (1)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | about a year ago | (#43817253)

...is there're so many to choose from.

b&

High five (0)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year ago | (#43817255)

I almost never agree with anything the Obama admin. does but when I do, I'm happy to give kudos.

Re:High five (1)

Sir Realist (1391555) | about a year ago | (#43817351)

That's a high 6 3/8ths, Imperial.

Not disappointing (0)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | about a year ago | (#43817267)

The White House respecting the First Amendment is not disappointing. Unexpected, maybe.

no free choice for gov't info like speed limits (5, Informative)

mrvan (973822) | about a year ago | (#43817279)

I agree that no laws should be passed that force e.g. a supermarket to use specific weights or measures. If people are annoyed by the choice of a supermarket they can bring their business elsewhere.

However, the "free choice" argument does not work for monopoly players, especially the government itself. The last time I was in the US, miles were used in the interstate system to indicate both distances/exit numbers and maximum speeds. You can't choose to pick the other road that goes the same place but uses metric, because there is no real competition in the road network.

I don't know whether other official communication of the state(s) uses metric or not, I could imagine many laws and forms that refer to land area, volumes of water, weight (e.g. of cars) that could use either non-metric or metric. They can't hide behind a "free choice" argument there, and a real "bimetric" system requires the government to provide information, like speed limits, in both systems, just like a blingual government publishes laws etc. in two languages.

The White House has the right idea. (5, Funny)

Sydin (2598829) | about a year ago | (#43817287)

Maybe before we rush to adopt the Metric system, we should stop to consider the consequences of blithely giving this measurement system such a central position in our lives.

The right answer (0)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about a year ago | (#43817291)

We measure distance in miles, but fiber optic cable diameter in millimeters. We weigh deli products in pounds, but medicine in milligrams. We buy gasoline by the gallon, but soda comes in liter-size bottles. We parcel property in acres, but remote sensing satellites map the Earth in square meters.

While many countries mandate the use of the metric system by law, the U.S. Congress has repeatedly passed laws that encourage voluntary adoption of the metric system. We use a mixture of metric and customary units depending on the context. We also have a long tradition of voluntary standards and our bilingual system of measurement is part of that tradition.

I may be prejudiced by my upbringing, but I always broke it down to metric being the most scientific measurement system, while imperial is the most human, very much in the Spock vs Kirk kind of way.

Fahrenheit? 0 = friggin' cold, 100 = friggin' hot.
How long is a foot? Approximately the size of your foot.
You walked a kilometer? Big whoop. You walked a mile? That's a workout.
A gallon of milk will last you the week, a gallon of gas will get you home.
Putting up a wall? We're gonna need some 2x4s and 4x8s
Even the concept of converting grandma's recipe for chocolate cake to metric give me hives.

Now fixing my car? Measuring out the baby's medicine? Sending a probe to Mars? Hells yes, use metric, are you kidding? But for day to day stuff, mine's a pint.

.

Good (3, Insightful)

chihowa (366380) | about a year ago | (#43817295)

I think that this is a perfectly adequate solution.

I'm a scientist and use metric for everything at work, but I can drive in miles and get groceries by the pound, too. It's really not that hard to effectively use both systems, and given time we can slowly move to using metric all of the time if we want. The most effective change happens so slowly that you can't pinpoint when exactly it happened. Since there's no urgency here, it will be fine if it takes another generation or so to fully transition.

Look at the progress we've made since the seventies. Today, anyone in science, engineering, medicine, the military, and many other fields are already proficient with both systems. There's no rush, so why not let it happen organically?

Wow they really are pro-Choice! (1)

mrmeval (662166) | about a year ago | (#43817301)

They've left it up to us and are uninterested in obeying the fascists that want to use government violence to force you to obey their will.

Wait, so what they're saying.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43817311)

... is that it's okay for Americans to go up to signs that are in imperial, rip them down, and replace them with ones that are in metric?

I mean, if it's really supposed to be entirely voluntary.... isn't that what that means?

Of course, conversely, they could rip down any metric signage that they see and replace them with imperial too...

I'm seeing a rather glaring problem with this notion of "voluntary" as it applies to what kinds of units the country uses.

Real Americans eschew metric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817333)

Real Americans grew up using base 3, base 12, and base 60. Pushing decimal points is for sissies.

Why (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817345)

Why is everyone so bent on this metric system?

I'm from a country that changed to metric decades before I even started school. I now live in the US, honestly I dont have a problem with the imperial system, I learned all the useful conversions with-in a few months, now I just know what the commonly used imperial units represent with out having to do conversions. If anything the units of measurement are easier to deal with. Gee 55 litreeees of fuel or 14.5 gallons.. 14.5 gallons sounds more practical to me.

If you want to use the metric system exclusively, go and live in a country that enforces it.

Re:Why (1)

Dominare (856385) | about a year ago | (#43817407)

Why is everyone so bent on this metric system?

Oh, I don't know, maybe because its intuitive, infinitely scalable in either direction, doesn't require a gigantic list of esoteric nouns to be memorized... hell, it even maps directly to the number of fingers you have!

Coming up next...Lawsuits. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817355)

So, anyone care to predict what's next with this "bilingual" bullshit?

Perhaps scores of petitions rolling in to convert all road signs to English and Spanish?

Lawsuits flying because we didn't go through with that petition from "offended" minority groups?

More lawsuits flying because we didn't also include Farsi?

Well, taxpayer, what say you? How much are you willing to watch your taxes go up to pay for all that shit?

The White House response was pathetic, and pandered to nothing more than the lawyers, leaving the door wide open.

Sitting back laughing because my predictions are a joke? Take a look in any courtroom and you'll see worse. I promise.

Metric is awkward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43817369)

I'm British. Metric system feels unnatural to me. I see the world in feet and inches, and fractions of inches. Kilometres seem useless when miles do the job fine. I bake with pounds and ounces (ok, usually I bake by volume - I haven't got the patience for anything else), and weigh myself in stone. If I was doing science, I would use the metric system, but for daily life - why bother? If you have a system that works fine, use it.

Re:Metric is awkward (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#43817411)

so, you do have 12 fingers? Then go on, it is perfectly natural for you to count to 12.

Speak metric at home (1)

Meeni (1815694) | about a year ago | (#43817373)

I was born and raised in metric land. I am now doing everything in "imperial" measurements, because using foreign units to do daily tasks is just about as productive as speaking cantonese to order food at your local burger drive-in. It doesn't work without excruciating efforts.

Go to a shop, buy food produces, everything is labeled in oz and other random nonsensical units. Still, converting everything doesn't make it easier. Cooking is their example, so lets try it! You'd thought that using your imported cookbook, you'd be able to cook all in metric. Not so quickly. First cookware are not in metric, but I also had imported metric measuring bowls, haha ! Then I discovered that the amount of fat in butter, milk, etc is not the same as in Europe (it is standardized, but standardized differently). So all recipe made with an european cookbook fail miserably, the cake falls, it looks dry, or wet, but never quite right. Good luck then finding a US cookbook using metric measurements. Then, what is the point exactly of using an imperial cookbook, convert all units to metric, use metric tool and result in failure because you made conversion errors ?

Re:Speak metric at home (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#43817427)

Easy, don't use imperial cookbooks, try use the republican cookbooks only :)

Re:Speak metric at home (1)

Meeni (1815694) | about a year ago | (#43817437)

And remember I am saying all that, meanwhile I am all infuriated by the fact that incoherent and inconsistent units make it super hard to do the most simple things, like comparing the price per volume/weight of produces you buy at the local grocery store. One is labeled in oz, the other in pounds, the third one in fluid oz (brilliant, having too different things with the same name). Anyway, I am buying groceries, not participating in counting-bees contest, so computint divisions by 12 and multiplications 16^3 was not in my program for the day. This is were mandating consistent units for selling volumes of goods and comparable price/g or price/L would make sense. Conversion and comparison is simpler for consumer. Instead, the unit jungle makes price impossible to compare.

Km? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#43817399)

That's why every time someone wanna to check the "mileage" of my car, i have to explicitly tell him that it is KM, not MILE, and then again, and then again, and god help me if i forget to do it, you could not imagine the paperwork that i have to go after that, because the stupid b**** could not read english, which says KM, not MILE.
brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

This misses the real problem (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about a year ago | (#43817405)

Sorry guys, but metric is a sub issue. The real issue is the number of people who go through the school system who can't really use either english or metric systems very well. They're really functionally illeterate in making simple measurements, adding them, and so on. Solve that, then worry about which system is in use.

When I was in graduate school, we made our experimental apparatus in metric units on tools, like a milling machine, calibrated in english units. I'm nearly finished building an aircraft that uses metric units, except for hardware, which is in english units. I think you need to be able to use either, and switch back and forth wihtout difficulty. If you can't, you don't really understand either measurement system all that well. But that gets back to the lack of measurement ability that emerges from our schools.

I can see no reason for spending tax dollars to change exisiting things, like road signs, from english to metric. Replace them as they wear out, if this really needs to be done. But then, I can't see any good reason to spend tax dollars on bilingual signs, regardless of the language. And no, English is not the only language I try to speak.

White House: Use Metric If You Want, We Don't Care (1)

Molochi (555357) | about a year ago | (#43817415)

I'm completely OK with this, personally. However, I was taught metric in US elementary school and don't GAF about your kids. Sorry 'bout that.

I don't have kids, but if I did I'd make sure they knew metric by the time they learned a conversational language and basic algebra. So, by age 12.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?