Americans, what's so great about the Imperial System?

Sep 14, 2009
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Heronblade said:
Caiphus said:
Also, is ton not a Metric measurement?
Not exclusively

The ton as defined by the UK is defined as 1016 Kg, or about 2,240 pounds
The ton as defined in the US is defined as 2,000 pounds, or about 907 Kg
The metric ton is exactly 1000 Kg or about 2,204 pounds

To help with the confusion, the former have been called "short ton" and "long ton". Also, the metric version is sometimes spelled as tonne

In any event, American here. We've been stuck between the Imperial and Metric system for decades. The original plan was for a gradual shift, with many standards using both imperial and metric units. That kind of stalled out.

Speaking for the engineers that have to convert all this mess into a usable format, the vast majority of us loathe the imperial system from the bottom of our nerdy hearts. The reluctance of the American populace at large to switch to the more efficient and easier to learn ISU standard is incredibly annoying, and there is a very strong sentiment that we should simply swap over to doing everything in metric, to hell with anyone not prepared to finish switching with us.

Unfortunately that sentiment is not quite strong enough, its a bit like organizing a strike, either everyone's on board or the few involved just get screwed.

Ok, yes, there's more to it than that, it will take a lot of free capital to switch things over that no one wants to spend, and a lot of people don't have a clue how to deal with metric units.
DANGER- MUST SILENCE said:
There is one and only one advantage: Degrees F constitutes a larger range of numbers than degrees C. So in the very specific instance of being in a climate-controlled room with a digital thermostat and the goal of maximizing the comfort level of the room, assuming typical designs which work in whole numbers, degrees F gives more selectable data points and therefore allows more fine-tuning of the temperature. Now that I'm in a country where everything is Celcius I'm constantly flipping my airconditioner between 23 and 24 degrees C (73.4 and 75.2 degrees F) because all I want is 74 degrees.

Of course, this could be solved by any vaguely competent engineer who knows how to use decimals, so really the only advantage of the Imperial system is it provides a way for Americans to pretend we are better than everyone else by how we're willing to inconvenience ourselves.
this and this.

it's more down to being butt loads of expensive changing every single system (it's quite mind boggling how much would have to change) to metric and getting the stubborn older generations to agree with changing to it, and i thoroughly enjoy cranking it down between 60-61 degrees F, while celcius wouldn't quite give me that satisfaction :)

but really, in class we use the metric system about 90% of the time, but then again my asshole teachers use EVERYTHING just to try and catch us not using the correct unit so they can take off satan level of points, fucking annoying.
 

Storm Dragon

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Blame the Brits, it's their fault we're stuck using this stupid measurement system with them.

The capcha is an ad for arthritis medicine. I think they have the wrong website.
 

Feedmeketamine

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I can only live by milesc KM can suck it, miles just make more sense to me, a killometer is just a shitty wanna be mile that never made much sense
 

ZorroFonzarelli

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The simple answer to this question is: We're America. We don't have to.

I don't mean to sound arrogant, but it's a simple fact that we are a nation far removed from the rest of the world. In Europe, there are many large nations in a geographically small area. This means that naturally there is a proclivity towards developing commonalities in terms of measurements as well as a need for learning numerous languages, etc.

In the US, we are surrounded only by each other. There is no real need to accommodate anyone else's systems, languages, etc. The distance from Atlanta, GA to Miami, FL is roughly the distance from London to Milan, and that's just two states.

This site is fun if you want to play with distances: http://goeurope.about.com/od/europeanmaps/l/bl-country-size-comparison-map.htm

As far as national-level issues go in measurements, technology gives easy conversions, so there's no real need for the US to change, but doing so would cost a great deal of money.

We don't all need to have a single measurement system any more than we need to all have the same voltage in our electrical currents.
 

WOPR

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As an American... I can say we prefer the imperial system much for the same reason the christians here prefer creationism over evolution.

No matter how convoluted and nonsensical it is they prefer to stick with what they were raised with as opposed to starting over with a new system at a later age because "that's too hard!"

Same reason they constantly complain that "WHY CAN'T EVERYONE JUST LEARN ENGLISH?!" whenever they meet someone with a different first language.

It's quite annoying, I try to use both systems but because everything is done on the imperial system it's stuck in me more. I can't go to the fabric store and ask for a meter of fabric, I have to ask for it by the yard.
 

Heronblade

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ZorroFonzarelli said:
The simple answer to this question is: We're America. We don't have to.

I don't mean to sound arrogant, but it's a simple fact that we are a nation far removed from the rest of the world. In Europe, there are many large nations in a geographically small area. This means that naturally there is a proclivity towards developing commonalities in terms of measurements as well as a need for learning numerous languages, etc.

In the US, we are surrounded only by each other. There is no real need to accommodate anyone else's systems, languages, etc. The distance from Atlanta, GA to Miami, FL is roughly the distance from London to Milan, and that's just two states.

This site is fun if you want to play with distances: http://goeurope.about.com/od/europeanmaps/l/bl-country-size-comparison-map.htm

As far as national-level issues go in measurements, technology gives easy conversions, so there's no real need for the US to change, but doing so would cost a great deal of money.

We don't all need to have a single measurement system any more than we need to all have the same voltage in our electrical currents.
We don't need to have the same voltage in our electrical systems ONLY because there is no international electrical grid. (that we are connected to at any rate) The equivalent cannot remotely be said of measurement standards. We lose millions of dollars and waste a huge amount of time screwing around with the contrast between these two systems on a monthly basis, and the only reason it will cost more to switch is because we waited too goddamn long to do so in the first place.

This is the 21st century, not the 19th. The fact that we are surrounded by more ocean than land means next to nothing these days.
 

Drake the Dragonheart

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Aug 14, 2008
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OP, you win! I have no idea why we in the US have to use a different system of measurement. chances are someone already hit on this, but we call it the English system. Not even the English, who it is named after, want to use it! The metric is so much easier! Everything is multiples of 10. If you can move a decimal point, you can do the metric system!
 

Tono Makt

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Amaror said:
First of all. I know this i probably going to be a pretty difficult discussion. Everyone here has grown up with one or the other measurement system, so nobody can be really objective about this.
....
I heard from some people that the imperial system is easier to use in day to day life, but i can't see why.
It's obviously better in day to day life, if you have grown up with it and used it your entire life.
But if we look at both systems and how we would use them in day to day life, i still think the metric system to be far superiour.
I'm not sure how this can be a difficult discussion - there's nothing better about the Imperial system. At all. The only reasons that it's still being used is that America is the largest economy in the world, so items are made with them in mind first and foremost. Quite a few will have both the Metric and Imperial systems on them, but I don't think I have a single tool which is merely in Metric. (parts of a toolkit being in metric, yes. A 13mm socket wrench, yes. A socket wrench set that is only in metric, no.) And many of the tradesmen are quite old - in their late 40's to early 70's - who have spent 30+ years working in "Feet" "Yards" "Inches" "Gallons", "Pounds" and "Ounces". These tradesmen are the chief teachers of the young tradesmen (like Myself, back in the day, as well as Mrs. Makt - one of the many reasons I fell in love with her. What man doesn't love a woman who knows her way around a gas powered diamond saw?), and so teach their apprentices to use the Imperial system. My wife and I both grew up being taught only the Metric system, but in our time in the trades we would be asked to get "2 gallons of Hydrochloric Acid" or to mix up "5 ounces of pigment for every bucket of mortar" or "Cut the wood to 77 and 3/8ths" because the Imperial system was the system used at work.

Eventually the Imperial system will die out. Once the USA makes an effort to switch over (or the USA stops being the primary market for most of the world's goods...) the Metric system will take over, and will be far superior to the Imperial. I might even consider going back in the trades, if I don't have to try to divide 77 3/8ths into 3 equal length pieces of wood... argh. (The answer is 25 and 1/2, because the saw takes off a bit more than 3/8 of an inch each cut, so you end up with just about 25 1/2 inches per board if you cut a 77 3/8ths board into 3 equal pieces. Stupid imperial system.)
 

zarker

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Oct 14, 2012
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Nothing is great about it. Nothing wrong with it either. Works well for everyday life though which everyone seems to ignore. What's up with everyones' vitriolic hate for a system of measurement that doesn't even affect them?

Anyone that needs to know the metric system knows it, and everyone else uses the Imperial system for day to day life. Absolutely zero reason to change except to shut up the idiots complaining about it even though it'll never affect them.

The better question is why should we change to the Metric System? I grew up with the Imperial system so I visualize everything in it. What actual benefits would I receive by switching from it in my everyday life?
 

JWAN

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What's so great about it?
Noting especially, other than it helped us to differentiate ourselves when that was an important factor for us.
The thing is, the metric system is easier to learn, most Americans can actually deal with that difference (I bet that will surprise our foreign buddies, and even some Americans). Our cars already have both sets on the speedometer, beyond that, what does it REALLY matter?

That being said, our standard units of measurement have been based on the metric system for 120 years, we just don't need to blow all of the cash that would have be required to change every roadsign, text book, and measuring device in the country over something that isn't that important.

See soccer vs football.
Again, another argument that has no importance beyond one side feeling like they are more right than the other side.

In the USA football is called soccer. No deaths have been reported.
The rest of the world gives us shit, and nobody here cares.
 

IceForce

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zarker said:
What's up with everyones' vitriolic hate for a system of measurement that doesn't even affect them?

Absolutely zero reason to change except to shut up the idiots complaining about it even though it'll never affect them.
Actually is does affect us.
I can't watch an episode of Mythbusters without imperial measurements being shoved down my fucking throat.

Speaking as someone who has absolutely zero understanding of any imperial measurements, I can say that it makes US television extremely annoying to watch.
 

JWAN

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IceForce said:
zarker said:
What's up with everyones' vitriolic hate for a system of measurement that doesn't even affect them?

Absolutely zero reason to change except to shut up the idiots complaining about it even though it'll never affect them.
Actually is does affect us.
I can't watch an episode of Mythbusters without imperial measurements being shoved down my fucking throat.

Speaking as someone who has absolutely zero understanding of any imperial measurements, I can say that it makes US television extremely annoying to watch.
so...why do you watch it?

The US should spend billions of dollars to change our system to metric so you can watch the mythbusters?
 

Heronblade

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zarker said:
Nothing is great about it. Nothing wrong with it either. Works well for everyday life though which everyone seems to ignore. What's up with everyones' vitriolic hate for a system of measurement that doesn't even affect them?

Anyone that needs to know the metric system knows it, and everyone else uses the Imperial system for day to day life. Absolutely zero reason to change except to shut up the idiots complaining about it even though it'll never affect them.

The better question is why should we change to the Metric System? I grew up with the Imperial system so I visualize everything in it. What actual benefits would I receive by switching from it in my everyday life?
Yeah, not exactly true.

A very large portion of the people in this thread who support switching to Metric, myself included, are Americans who are badly affected by the Imperial system. This is not a foreign culture trying to shove this down your throat. This is your own people who have to use these measurements a hell of a lot more often than you do in your daily life asking everyone else to wake the fuck up and join the rest of the world in using a more efficient, more accurate, and easier to learn standard.

Then maybe, just maybe, we won't have to watch another space mission crash and burn just because someone used the imperial standard when they were not supposed to. All things considered, the only reason I am not surprised that there are not a hell of a lot more accidents like that is because of the extreme levels of safety checks we use. We waste a huge amount of time mediating between these two systems in order to avoid problems.
 

JWAN

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TopazFusion said:
I think all the people in here saying "Doh well, it's too expensive and too much effort to change, so we're stuck with it", are forgetting the fact that other countries have managed to switch from imperial to metric.

Yes it was expensive, yes it took many years, but it was all worth it in the end.


Hell, some countries have even had to switch to decimal currency.

So change IS possible. There really is no excuse.
It took those countries years to do it, NASA explained that if they changed everything on their schematics to metric it would cost 370 million dollars. Meaning they wouldn't be able to launch space shuttles for the first half of the year.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter one way or another. Most people can figure out the metric system (as long as you can move a decimal point), over 40% of all manufacturing uses the metric system, most of our products we export use metric measurements and nobody has died because of it. Our system for the last 120 years has been based on the metric system.
 

JWAN

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Then maybe, just maybe, we won't have to watch another space mission crash and burn just because someone used the imperial standard when they were not supposed to. All things considered, the only reason I am not surprised that there are not a hell of a lot more accidents like that is because of the extreme levels of safety checks we use.
What accident was that?
 

ardias014

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Amaror said:
DANGER- MUST SILENCE said:
There is one and only one advantage: Degrees F constitutes a larger range of numbers than degrees C. So in the very specific instance of being in a climate-controlled room with a digital thermostat and the goal of maximizing the comfort level of the room, assuming typical designs which work in whole numbers, degrees F gives more selectable data points and therefore allows more fine-tuning of the temperature. Now that I'm in a country where everything is Celcius I'm constantly flipping my airconditioner between 23 and 24 degrees C (73.4 and 75.2 degrees F) because all I want is 74 degrees.

Of course, this could be solved by any vaguely competent engineer who knows how to use decimals, so really the only advantage of the Imperial system is it provides a way for Americans to pretend we are better than everyone else by how we're willing to inconvenience ourselves.
Ok, still i think it's way easier to learn a temperature system were one point is the freezing point of water and the other one is the boiling point of water, which are both things we use in our Day to Day live as opposed to Fahrenheit. Were the low point is that one winter were it was really cold in the inventors home town and the other one is the temperature of the human body. The first one is just hilarious and while i can understand the second one its not exactly something that you use in your day to day life.
But knowing the safe temperature for your survival is better and metric sucks at that. With Fahrenheit, 1 - 100 is survivable human range, with Celsius it isn't. It is also not the best for science because of kelvin.
 

Abomination

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IceForce said:
zarker said:
What's up with everyones' vitriolic hate for a system of measurement that doesn't even affect them?

Absolutely zero reason to change except to shut up the idiots complaining about it even though it'll never affect them.
Actually is does affect us.
I can't watch an episode of Mythbusters without imperial measurements being shoved down my fucking throat.

Speaking as someone who has absolutely zero understanding of any imperial measurements, I can say that it makes US television extremely annoying to watch.
I work for UPS, guess what packages are frequently measured in...

Weight and dimensions. Most shipments are actually measured in kilograms but we'll frequently get shipments out of the States that will be listed as pounds and inches.

Then since I deal with logistics I have to discuss distance travelled - miles or kilometers.

Calculating such figures in different scenarios isn't exactly crippling but it is pointless time consuming compared to if I didn't have to deal with imperial at all.

JWAN said:
TopazFusion said:
I think all the people in here saying "Doh well, it's too expensive and too much effort to change, so we're stuck with it", are forgetting the fact that other countries have managed to switch from imperial to metric.

Yes it was expensive, yes it took many years, but it was all worth it in the end.


Hell, some countries have even had to switch to decimal currency.

So change IS possible. There really is no excuse.
It took those countries years to do it, NASA explained that if they changed everything on their schematics to metric it would cost 370 million dollars. Meaning they wouldn't be able to launch space shuttles for the first half of the year.
If they were mad they would try to re-label such things. It would be far cheaper to ensure that all new components and devices were made with metric readouts and all employees who are required/certified in the use of equipment that could contain either readout are capable of understanding and converting imperial to metric, and metric to imperial in their heads. We are talking NASA here, and my understanding is that the people employed there are supposed to be some of the best and brightest the world has to offer.
 

Heronblade

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JWAN said:
Then maybe, just maybe, we won't have to watch another space mission crash and burn just because someone used the imperial standard when they were not supposed to. All things considered, the only reason I am not surprised that there are not a hell of a lot more accidents like that is because of the extreme levels of safety checks we use.
What accident was that?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter

We actually got lucky here. That particular mission "only" cost us about $650 million.

The units error on the other hand could have been made with just about any of the missions run by NASA, including the manned ones.

This kind of thing is why engineers often spend more time checking their work than actually doing their primary job. A doctor screws up, they kill one person. An engineer screws up, the death toll can be and from time to time has been in the thousands.
 

IceForce

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JWAN said:
The US should spend billions of dollars to change our system to metric so you can watch the mythbusters?
If all you're going to do is strawman me, then you can't expect to receive any more replies from me.

Good day sir.
 

IceForce

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Abomination said:
IceForce said:
zarker said:
What's up with everyones' vitriolic hate for a system of measurement that doesn't even affect them?

Absolutely zero reason to change except to shut up the idiots complaining about it even though it'll never affect them.
Actually is does affect us.
I can't watch an episode of Mythbusters without imperial measurements being shoved down my fucking throat.

Speaking as someone who has absolutely zero understanding of any imperial measurements, I can say that it makes US television extremely annoying to watch.
I work for UPS, guess what packages are frequently measured in...

Weight and dimensions. Most shipments are actually measured in kilograms but we'll frequently get shipments out of the States that will be listed as pounds and inches.

Then since I deal with logistics I have to discuss distance travelled - miles or kilometers.

Calculating such figures in different scenarios isn't exactly crippling but it is pointless time consuming compared to if I didn't have to deal with imperial at all.
That's pretty much the point I was making.

Saying "Oh, you don't live in the US, so it imperial measurements don't affect you" is a complete bullshit argument.

Everything from TV shows, to working with international shipping, is affected.