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Friday, July 4, 2008

Getting the Americans to Go Metric

Warning: the following is arbitrarily trivial and most likely not worth reading.

On my way home from work this afternoon while suffering from a headache, I was suddenly struck with an inspirational idea (or, in other words, a completely useless idle thought that I figured was cleverly funny enough to be written down). So far, while the ubiquity of the metric system world-wide has caused it to be adopted within the scientific establishments even in America, the common American (and even common useage in Canada and Britain, though it pains me to admit it) still operates within the antiquated imperial system. Then I realised a brilliant way to start getting people to use the metric system - start referring to monetary units in a metric fashion. No longer would we have dollars and cents, but now we would have dollars and centidollars. You might get paid a decadollar an hour, and everyone would want to be a megadollaraire (or just megaire for short). The nice thing about this is it would not even require switching the magnitude of the unit, since a dollar would stay a dollar, so it would be much easier for people to get used to than having to start thinking in terms of meters instead of feet. Then, once the metric system terminology has been driven into the common mindset (while I recognize this is already partially being done by computer terminology with bytes, money tends to come up in conversation rather a lot more often), the rest of it might be more readily accepted.


cornucrapia said...

OK, but how do we get everyone to switch to calling them megabucks? Seems like this might actually be harder to do than getting people to use metric, there's much more apparent benefits with metric.

wisefly said...

Why not metric time too? people talk about time a lot. Remember this moment, people: 80 past 2 on April 47th, it's the start of an enlightened era.

Also I don't think Canadians are bound by the imperial system in common life. While most of us casually refer to feet, miles and pounds, I don't think you can find a lot of people who can confidently tell you how many feet to the yard, how many yards in a mile and how many ounces in a pound.

One the other hand, you might find many more people who know roughly how many feet in a metre, how many kilometers in a mile, and how many grams is a pound.

Mozglubov said...

I tried designing a metric time system when I was going into middle school. However, I realised it was fairly useless since the number of days in a year is not convertible to decimal systems. So, while we might be able to convert over to a 10 hour (or its equivalent)/day, 10 day/week system, we would still be faced with having 36.5 weeks in the year.

Also, when I meant commonly bound by the imperial system I was referring to certain aspects of our life which are dominated by material from American manufacturers, mainly the stuff you buy from a hardware store. It is still much harder in this country to buy metric equipment, and most people I know who do any sort of manufacturing (other than high-tech) are more comfortable in imperial. As far as Britain goes, granted I haven't been there in a few years, but when I was there I was shocked to find that there were still some signs in miles per hour.

Anyway, as I said, this was a fairly frivolous post.

Kari said...

Heh, I spent a great deal of yesterday serving as a metric/imperial transalator between Americans and Europeans. Degrees Fahrenheit still bug me, though.