Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

No. The Metric System Does Not "Make Sense."

Fuck no. It does NOT make sense. If the metrics people were pragmatists, it would be:

kilofeet, etc.

It would be:

decagallons, hectogallons, kilogallons, etc!!!!


They chose to pick some arbitrary BULL SHIT. "Oh, let's make the meter...let's make it based on...the wavelength of Hydrogen, or some shit...!"

Well, fine. Fuck them, then. All base units are arbitrary. If they were serious about getting people to adopt that nonsense, they would have picked an arbitrary base unit that was relatable to people, not some nonsense bullshit that was relatable to what...atoms?

Fuck them.

Their system rots, and it will continue to rot. Yeah, the American educational system is fine! YEAH, THEY TAUGHT ME ABOUT THE METRIC SYSTEM!!!

In history class.

That's right.


Shandle said...

I came here to yell at you for depriving me of my Bonzo blog post, but then your post made me laugh and you are YOU so I can't be that mad!

Sean Scully said...

Hooray, Mr. Joe, for making the point that has irritated me about this since I was a child: Base 10 is no more intuitive or easy to grasp than base 12. Or base 127 for that matter.

I say we should adopt the binary system, so we could say things like "Hey, look, Las Vegas is only another 11101101 units ahead."

Or "bartender, I paid for 1100 units of beer in this glass and I expect to get it. That's only 1011 units in there, even with the foam."

Mel said...

If they were serious about getting people to adopt that nonsense, they would have picked an arbitrary base unit that was relatable to people

Base 10 is no more intuitive or easy to grasp than base 12

But I do all my calcumacaltions using my fingers and thumbs! I rest my case for the metric system. You know it makes cents.

dogimo said...

@Shanty - I wish I could have just posted the whole conversation Bonzo and I had about American Hegemony instead! It was thought-provocative.

Shandle said...

Between the two of you, I can only imagine!

dogimo said...

Sean, and possibly to some extent Mel, but - Sean to start: I've often wondered why we we seem to think 10 makes such a sweet set to divvy things up into. Is it just the fingers thing? I have heard that children taught to calculate in duodecimal (base 12) find it just as straightforward as kids being taught decimal (base 10).

(and they really should have figured out a way to make the Dewey Decimal System a duodecimal system if they were going to call it that)

Anyway, I think that the main thrust of the metric system is to pick 1 base unit for each, and make all your base units increase and decrease by the same factor using a standard set of prefixes for each denomination.

My beef in the original article is, they fucked up picking base units. They could just as easily have picked a unit that would have won in a walkover, by co-opting each of our own most beloved units as the base for theirs. I mean, an American doesn't mind being 6 foot 1 decafeet tall, same basic difference. But he's not going to settle for being a comparatively shrimpy 1.859 meters. Forget it!

As far as your main point Base 10 vs. Base 12 or Base anything - in theory, I'd bet a true metrics system booster would agree with you that going up or down by base 12 would be just as logical as using base 10. As long as it's applied consistently! I think the main beef metrics peoples have with our system is how we have distance units go up and down by base random. 12 pips equals a dwonk, and then 3 dwonks equals a twark, and then 100 twarks equals a football field, and 17.6 football fields equals a mile (etc.).

Oops, I screwed that up. "Football field" is a unit of area. All the others are distance. Well you get the idea!

dogimo said...

@Mel - I see you've quoted both Sean's and my comments, but I think Seany's talking more about what you're talking about - the multiple that is applied to whatever base unit you choose.

I wasn't talking about the multiple so much as the base units themselves. Basically they made up a word, "meter," they threw around a bunch of candidates for how long it should be, they picked one, standardized their "meter," and later found they mismeasured or miscalculated the surface of the earth or whatever so it wasn't what they said it was. Currently the official definition of a meter is "the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1⁄299,792,458 of a second."

Point is, it's totally arbitrary. If they'd gone with the FOOT as their base measure, they would be no worse off science-wise (they could just express the foot in those same lightspeed fraction of a second terms), and they could have taken over the world by now!

Wait: stepping back a bit to Seanibus: the base unit for volume would have to be PINT. Not gallon.