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Why hasn't U.S. gone metric yet?
Old 10-28-2007, 04:27 AM   #1
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Why hasn't U.S. gone metric yet?

It seems odd to me that given the globalization of economy and products, that there isn't a strong movement toward the metric system in the U.S..

We did it in Canada in the early 70's, and now we use about a 50/50 mix. Most of us use litres, kilometers, and celsius but if you ask someone their weight and height, it's in pounds, feet, and inches. I guess we are and always have been a British/U.S. hybrid.

The plain truth is that metric is a much simpler system to use since every measurement is based on a multiple of 10. For example, there are 10 millimeters in a centimeter, 10 centimeters in a decimeter, etc.

Everything that you buy now seems to be built with metric hardware. Is it time to do the switch? If not then why?
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Old 10-28-2007, 06:57 AM   #2
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Because the way we do things here in America is the best way and there is no reason to change to the stupid way things are done somewhere else.

Even though that statement is filled with fallacies it is the actual answer to your question.

Our educational system is turning out graduates who can't count dollars and cents. The simple elegance of the Metric system is unfathomable.
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Old 10-28-2007, 07:15 AM   #3
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It is not “time to do the switch”. That time was forty years ago.
The truth is that we have been forced to convert to the Metric system due to the realities of the globalization that Grizz cited. We are using it as much as any country in the world. There’s simply an additional layer of language translation on top of all the metric specifications to make the “American” comfortable.
Additionally, this is probably the greatest real barrier keeping out all those undesirable foreigners.
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Old 10-28-2007, 09:31 AM   #4
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We used to prepare highway plans in metric (and feet) because there was a mandate to do so for projects financed with federal dollars. But we haven't been required to do so for the last 7-8 years. The increasing complexity of the construction industry makes it increasingly difficult to change measurement systems.
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Old 10-28-2007, 09:38 AM   #5
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Because we are resistant to change and we have a predominant culture that doesn't want to march to the drumbeat of the rest of the world. That's sometimes a good thing, and sometimes not such a good thing.
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Old 10-28-2007, 10:33 AM   #6
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It seems odd to me that given the globalization of economy and products, that there isn't a strong movement toward the metric system in the U.S.....

......Is it time to do the switch? If not then why?
I think it's way too late to change the system now. Too late, because it would be far too costly. A bazillion highway signs would have to be changed, including all of the mile-marker signs, and speed limit signs. Along with that, while most automobile speedometer read in both miles and kilometers, odometers are for the most part read in miles. Then there are all of the text books, reference books and manuals, technical drawings and blueprints.

But even more importantly than those.....what about Gramma's recipes?! Everything's in ounces and pounds, because Granny didn't know metrics! There'd be a real good chance that I'd screw up converting ounces to milliliters, and my final result would taste awful.....and not realizing my mistake, I'd forever remember Gramma as a lousy @$$ cook! Oh the heart break!

But, seriously, the OP is correct. Metrics are a heck of a lot easier to use. I remember back to late in Grade School they started teaching the metric system and said it would someday soon be the standard system in use in the USA. However by the time I made it to HS, they'd pretty much dropped it from the curriculum. I still ended up having to learn it in later years when I started working in a laboratory, and finally ER'd as a lab manager.

I think if they gradually phased it in, starting in grade school, and kept it going throughout HS and college, it could become standard in about 20-25 years. Similar to the 'frog in the kettle' theory. And that time frame would allow plenty of time to change out those bazillion highway signs, books, references, and manuals......at very little, if any, additional cost.
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Old 10-28-2007, 10:42 AM   #7
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I worked in the US auto industry and we switched decades ago. I was amused when my teenage neighbor asked for help getting a bolt loose on his car. I explained that the problem was that he was using an English socket instead of metric. "Huh, when did that change?" Uh - before you were born.......
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Old 10-28-2007, 10:50 AM   #8
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The only way to change now would be to use both methods until we get so used to the (easier) metric system that we just abandon the "other" method.
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Old 10-28-2007, 11:00 AM   #9
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'Cause we are interested in what is most important. Temperature. Fahreneheit use allows us to easily set the heat or AC to 70 or 72 rather than 21.11 or 22.22. saves digits. Hey! it's 37 degrees this morning - that has more discrimination than 3 C (which is 37.4F). And i don't feel like saying "Hey! It's 2.78 degreesC".
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Old 10-28-2007, 11:05 AM   #10
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Quick what comes in a 341 ml bottle?



Uh a 12 oz beer.

The labels may be metric but not the sizes: 2x4s, 4x8 sheets, lb of butter

Gramma's recipes are in tablespoons and pinches but older recipes are a problem.
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Change is difficult.......
Old 10-28-2007, 12:02 PM   #11
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Change is difficult.......

ireland.com - Breaking News - Irish pint safe after measured EU move
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Old 10-28-2007, 12:38 PM   #12
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Quick what comes in a 341 ml bottle?

Uh a 12 oz beer.
More confusion, those are Imperial ounces. I come up with 355 mL = 12 ounces here in the US of A.

-ERD50
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Old 10-28-2007, 12:44 PM   #13
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I think that going digital will help since my car's thermometer can do both metric and Fahrenheit at the push of a button. I know that temps in both since I am on a lot of calls with foreigners who don't understand our system.

Ironically, I was on a bus tour in Victoria, BC and the driver said that he liked the town since it only got down to 40. I knew he meant Fahrenheit because 40 degrees is what Phoenix hits during the summer.

I believe that the US will only adopt metric when it is forced to do so because it becomes economically necessary. On the highway south of Tucson to Mexico, the signs are both English and Metric which freaks out some people because we are giving in to the Mexicans (which other people would call hospitality).
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Old 10-28-2007, 01:14 PM   #14
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More confusion, those are Imperial ounces. I come up with 355 mL = 12 ounces here in the US of A.

-ERD50
341 ml for a bottle
355 ml for a can
How is that for schizophrenic?

I do like my red wine in 750 ml bottles though...

In Mexico, the beer is in 325 ml bottles. Must be true metric.
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Old 10-28-2007, 02:07 PM   #15
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In some areas we do use metric. I would like to see us move the rest of the way there to simplify things.
As an examply just try to find any medication where the ingredients aren't listed in metric
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Old 10-28-2007, 02:14 PM   #16
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Because it's un-American.
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Old 10-28-2007, 02:23 PM   #17
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Because America leads and never follows... Just waiting for the rest of the world to drop the metric system and adopt the US unit system...
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Old 10-28-2007, 02:43 PM   #18
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Ancient Greek and Latin have advantages over English. Maybe we should change the lingua franca as well.

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Old 10-28-2007, 04:29 PM   #19
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Ancient Greek and Latin have advantages over English. Maybe we should change the lingua franca as well.

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But didn't Jesus speak English? I had to explain to at least one person that the Bible was not written in English. This surprised that person. I wouldn't even try to explain the differences between the Vulgate and Greek texts. This was before Mel Gibson put his spin on things.
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Old 10-28-2007, 04:46 PM   #20
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But didn't Jesus speak English? I had to explain to at least one person that the Bible was not written in English. This surprised that person. I wouldn't even try to explain the differences between the Vulgate and Greek texts. This was before Mel Gibson put his spin on things.
A Mormon friend is quite convinced that Jesus spent time in North America. As implausible as that is I think even he agrees that He didn't speak English since the language didn't exist at the time.
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