Thirty-Two

Thirty-two degrees. That’s the freezing point of water. Well, in the United States, anyway. This map shows all the countries, in red, that have not yet adopted the metric system.

metric-system-map_0.png

Yeah. It’s Liberia, Myanmar, and the US. Every other nation on the planet has adopted the metric system, or more precisely, the International System of Units. And Myanmar announced in 2013 that they’re moving to metric. Why hasn’t the United States? Well, because the Imperial System is so much fun!

  • Why have the boiling point and freezing point of water at 100 and 0 degrees, when 212 and 32 are much more colorful numbers?
  • Why have 10 millimeters to the centimeter, 100 centimeters to the meter, and 1000 meters to the kilometer? It’s much more exciting to have 12 inches to the foot, 3 feet to the yard, and 1760 yards to the mile! So intuitive!
  • One square kilometer is the area covered by a square that’s one kilometer long and one kilometer wide. Sure, that’s easy, but boring! Why not use an acre, which is the area covered by land that’s one furlong long and one chain wide?
  • Liters and milliliters? Too many l’s! Might as well be millllllliters. Why not try two cups to the pint, two pints to the quart, four quarts to the gallon, 31.5 gallons to the barrel, 1.33 barrels to the oil barrel, and 1.5 oil barrels to the hogshead? So much better!
  • Did you hear the news? As of May 20, 2019, the International System of Units is redefining the kilogram. P’shaw. We’ve had multiple definitions of weight for centuries. Don’t like troy weight? Then try avoirdupois! Or apothecaries’ weight! We’ve got all three, and they all use the same units, and they’re all different! Easiest way to lose weight in the world! Oh, and don’t forget we have the short ton and the long ton, which are 11.2% different!
  • Want more? Try this: One ton of refrigeration = 12,000 British Thermal Units per hour.
  • But check this out: we do use one metric unit, the calorie! Of course, the “calorie” we usually talk about, in foods, is actually a kilocalorie. (So there are 1000 calories in a calorie. Only in America!) And of course, the calorie isn’t used by anybody else – the International System of Units uses another metric unit, the Joule.
  • This one isn’t exactly metric, more of common sense. How much alcohol is in that drink? In most countries, it’s easy: read the label! It says, “12% alcohol by volume” or “12% ABV”. Not in America! We still use proof. Just multiply the percentage times two! There’s your 24 proof! Why not? The proof is in the pudding!

The United States did make some attempts to move to the metric system a few decades ago. I remember reading that there were some road signs posted with kilometer distances instead of miles. How did people react to them? What do you think? They shot them with shotguns. Seriously. Welcome to America.

2 thoughts on “Thirty-Two

  1. If they changed over then every one would need to learn something new. And you know most aren’t into change unless it benefits them in some way. Me? I ‘m I’m math deficient, it would take me awhile to learn it. I remember a few times they spoke about changing and I got a bit nervous!

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