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Metric vs. English
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subego
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Nov 9, 2014, 07:03 PM
 
Made you click!

What I'm curious about from metric people, is how many English units do you feel you have a basic handle on.

For example, I have a relatively good idea of how long a centimeter is, and how long a millimeter is. I can sub meters for yards.

On the other hand, centigrade I can't really work with mentally on my own.

To put it another way, someone says "50mm" I can kinda visualize that. Someone says "14°C", I have no idea where that is.


In a different thread, I said "three inches of snow". Can you metric peeps visualize that? Has America, through our petulance, basically forced this shit into your brain?
     
subego  (op)
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Nov 9, 2014, 07:24 PM
 
Americans are free to chime in about their ignorance of metric, or lack thereof.
     
subego  (op)
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Nov 9, 2014, 07:27 PM
 
And to be clear, the only unit I can do even close to natively are millimeters. Everything else involves a conversion.
     
Laminar
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Nov 9, 2014, 08:06 PM
 
I know 20 degC is room temperature and 0 degC is freezing. From there I can usually answer the standard "What's the weather like where you're from?" question that works for people all over the world as a substitute for decent conversation.
( Last edited by Laminar; Nov 9, 2014 at 10:51 PM. )
     
turtle777
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Nov 9, 2014, 08:49 PM
 
I have to agree, temperature is far harder to get an intuitive feel for.
Took me a while to get the feel for F, since I grew up in Europe. I started out just doing basic math.

As a rough guide, 2 F = 1 C

Like Laminar said, your baseline is 32F = 0C.
70F = 21C and 104F = 40C

To be more precise:
ºC =ºF - 32 / 1.8

-t
     
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Nov 10, 2014, 01:23 AM
 
More importantly, when you go to a pub how big is a handle or a schooner? Makes my mind asplode.
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Cap'n Tightpants
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Nov 10, 2014, 01:32 AM
 
I just ask for a pint, that's universal.
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reader50
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Nov 10, 2014, 03:41 AM
 
As a kid, I wanted to stick with the familiar units. Today, the US has to do business with all the world. And half our measurements are converted anyway. Appliance cords are 2 meters today, not 6 feet. Anyone bought a half-gallon soda pop bottle lately?

Nowadays, I'd rather we just got the transition over already. It will happen, and the longer we put it off, the longer the confusion goes on.
     
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Nov 10, 2014, 06:02 AM
 
I struggle with Farenheit. I'm reasonably ok with everything else though actually I wouldn't know a gallon if I saw one but we still measure car efficiency in mpg.

We mix and match a little in the UK. Milk is mostly bought in pints, though the bottles are also labelled in litres. Beer is pints (except when its a yard) wine bottles are almost always 70cl. Soft drinks are usually in litres or millilitres, 500ml or 1L. Petrol is bought in litres.
Roads are in miles and sometimes yards. I'm comfortable with inches and feet thanks to Warhammer 40K when I was younger.

As a science grad I'm usually happier with SI units. I'm pretty hopeless with imperial pounds, though people are often still weighed in stone. I have a familiarity with ounces thanks to a certain other habit from my youth, though I think I'm better at guessing weights in kilos when I'm holding them.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Spheric Harlot
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Nov 10, 2014, 06:15 AM
 
I can deal with feet, and miles give me a very rough idea of distance, as do inches.

Miles per gallon confuses me - we do litres per 100km.

Everything else: get stuffed. I'm not dealing.
     
Atheist
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Nov 10, 2014, 08:13 AM
 
In the late 70's I was in high school in Michigan not long after the Metric Conversion Act was passed in Congress. Because of this, I was exposed to the Metric system in school probably more than they stress it now. Along with the fact that I was focusing on the sciences I had the opportunity to become very comfortable with both units of measure. Since I've lived outside the US for 10 years now, most things I do are Metric. (Sadly, Reagan killed the effort to convert the US to Metric).

I confess I prefer Fahrenheit over Celsius only because it's more nuanced. In only 10 degrees Celsius you can go from being warm to cold. One easy trick for conversion is that 16C = 61F. It will help give you a rough idea.

Certainly Metric is more logical and easier to learn but getting 300+ million Americans to change is not going to be easy or cheap.
     
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Nov 10, 2014, 10:02 AM
 
I was proudly ignorant of the metric system for most of my life, only to realize late in the game that the rest of the world uses the metric system.
Anyhoo, I've all but mastered this devil's work, though correctly converting from F to C still results in burned food, bikinis in winter, and loss of life, but I have the liter - oops, litre stuff down cold, along with the other crap.

it does make sense and it seems far more scalable than imperial. Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.
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Nov 10, 2014, 11:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
I just ask for a pint, that's universal.
Wrong!

C to F to C also gives me trouble, because the two systems do not have an easily relatable conversion formula (e.g. 1lb = 2.2Kg, 1in = 2.5cm, 1mile = 1.6km, 1 foot = 0.3 metres...).

We still use MPG up here in Canada but L/100km is slowly catching. We do get a lot of influence from down south of course. In general, I think metric makes more sense for almost everything I can think of and is far more scalable and convertible - except for (I think it was?) sek's example of inches/feet fractions being more easy to use in practical applications, rather than dealing with decimal points...which is debatable but I will award one point in any event.
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Jawbone54
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Nov 10, 2014, 11:50 AM
 
I've been to Canada enough the past four years that I can easily convert F <-> C.

But I still have a lot of trouble quickly converting KPH to MPH and vice versa.
     
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Nov 10, 2014, 01:47 PM
 
An inch is about 25 mm - ie, 4 in 100 mm, which makes it easy enough to convert. The old Swedish word for it is "a thumb", which is roughly what it is (width of a man's thumb at the joint is roughly an inch). It is also frequently used in computing, with 13" laptops and 3.5" HDDs.
A foot is about 30 cm - again something I can convert.
Miles I can handle in the sense of speedlimits mph to km/h, because I remember a few common "pairs" (20 - 30 - 50 - 80 - 130: you convert km to miles by moving one step to the left and vice versa), but don't tell me that the distance between two cities is 87 miles
Pints and pounds are harder. I usually just divide by two (to get liters and kg), which is a rather bad approximation. Ounces are a complete mystery.
F to C is actually one of the hardest. Fortunately you can usually press a button on a thermometer and have it switch. If I have to, I know what 32F and 100F is and can approximate. I will add the 61F=16C to my collection, very useful. (Also -40=-40, but that is not a temperature one uses often)
MPG is the worst and most insane unit to convert to and from. It is always faster to find a computer with a network connection than try to figure it out.
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subego  (op)
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Nov 10, 2014, 02:11 PM
 
The key question here though, is why do you even arse with this? Is it us forcing it on you?

There have been multiple examples of how to deal with Fahrenheit and Celsius. It's not like I couldn't have figured this out, it's that there's no point. Celsius just doesn't come up for me. Since I can't keep my mouth shut, I'll also agree with Atheist, Fahrenheit is one of the few English units which are superior to the metric ones.

A reverse example is the millimeter. This is a genuinely useful unit regardless of what system you use. 1/32" is... unwieldy.
     
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Nov 10, 2014, 02:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Wrong!

C to F to C also gives me trouble, because the two systems do not have an easily relatable conversion formula (e.g. 1lb = 2.2Kg, 1in = 2.5cm, 1mile = 1.6km, 1 foot = 0.3 metres...).

We still use MPG up here in Canada but L/100km is slowly catching. We do get a lot of influence from down south of course. In general, I think metric makes more sense for almost everything I can think of and is far more scalable and convertible - except for (I think it was?) sek's example of inches/feet fractions being more easy to use in practical applications, rather than dealing with decimal points...which is debatable but I will award one point in any event.
Hardly, I asked for a "pint" in Japan and Singapore (in English, no less) and they knew exactly what I wanted, barkeeps the world over know what it means.
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Nov 10, 2014, 02:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
I've been to Canada enough the past four years that I can easily convert F <-> C.

But I still have a lot of trouble quickly converting KPH to MPH and vice versa.
I saw you at the LSU game.

(Sorry for the OT post.)
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Waragainstsleep
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Nov 10, 2014, 02:19 PM
 
Why aren't we talking about Kelvin?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego  (op)
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Nov 10, 2014, 02:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Why aren't we talking about Kelvin?
Now, color temperature I can do natively in Kelvin. Fahrenheit would **** me up.
     
Cap'n Tightpants
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Nov 10, 2014, 02:21 PM
 
and the Sixteenth Chapel?


(Ba, dump, bump.)
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subego  (op)
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Nov 10, 2014, 03:28 PM
 
In his memory.

A three sentence post.

Each sentence granted its OWN paragraph.
     
subego  (op)
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Nov 10, 2014, 03:43 PM
 
Tip for those Fahrenheit facile...

Dew point above 70°? Ass crack humid.
Dew point below 60°? Dry.
Between means between.

Don't point, it's not polite.
     
turtle777
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Nov 10, 2014, 03:54 PM
 
I miss Zimphire

-t
     
subego  (op)
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Nov 10, 2014, 03:58 PM
 
I do too. I'm surprised he flamed out so hard. He had to have been piss drunk or something.
     
Laminar
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Nov 10, 2014, 04:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I struggle with Farenheit. I'm reasonably ok with everything else though actually I wouldn't know a gallon if I saw one but we still measure car efficiency in mpg.
But Canada and the UK use a different size gallon than the US, so the mpg figures aren't directly comparable.
     
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Nov 10, 2014, 04:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Has America, through our petulance, basically forced this shit into your brain?
Barrel of oil. Buying cannabis*.

Everything else is metric.

*Why is cannabis in imperial but stuff like coke and speed aren't**?

**Been a while since I bought anything, but this is how it was when I was in Uni.

BTW, HP means so much more than Watts, IMHO.
     
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Nov 10, 2014, 05:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The key question here though, is why do you even arse with this? Is it us forcing it on you?
Inches comes up often enough in computing, TVs, and also in planks and whatnot when building stuff - and it comes up at work when I have to read FMVSS documents. Feet I guess is mostly when flying, but it's easy enough to remember. Miles because I have to drive in the UK every so often. The rest I barely remember, as you can tell.
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Waragainstsleep
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Nov 10, 2014, 05:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
But Canada and the UK use a different size gallon than the US, so the mpg figures aren't directly comparable.
True. I often forget this.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Spheric Harlot
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Nov 10, 2014, 05:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
But Canada and the UK use a different size gallon than the US, so the mpg figures aren't directly comparable.
That is just way beyond ****ed up.
     
The Final Dakar
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Nov 10, 2014, 05:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
That is just way beyond ****ed up.
It certainly is.
     
osiris
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Nov 10, 2014, 05:29 PM
 
How about those cubits? That never made it to metric or imperial.
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Spheric Harlot
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Nov 10, 2014, 05:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The key question here though, is why do you even arse with this? Is it us forcing it on you?
Reading the internets is a little difficult sometimes if you don't at least try to figure out what the American is talking about, and whether "HUGE" actually means "huge", or he's just way too afraid of spiders.

The weather thread in the Lounge here, for example: I decided about three posts in that I wouldn't bother with reading it, ever. I have no idea what Fahrenheit is, and I don't care.
     
starman
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Nov 10, 2014, 05:47 PM
 
In the 70s, the Metric System was really pushed on us hard. The US was going to convert to metric, dammit! Well, it didn't happen. I read that it was too costly and the car companies didn't want to have outdated dashboards. I'm sure there were a lot of other reasons.

Because of this, I'm pretty good at converting. C->F approximation is very easy: double it, add 30.

I'm fine on distance for both English and Metric, but I was never good at volume on either side because I use it so infrequently.

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Nov 10, 2014, 06:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
Barrel of oil. Buying cannabis*.

Everything else is metric.

*Why is cannabis in imperial but stuff like coke and speed aren't**?

**Been a while since I bought anything, but this is how it was when I was in Uni.
Except small amounts of pot are sold in grams, so the whole system is a bit strange.
     
subego  (op)
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Nov 10, 2014, 07:08 PM
 
Does anyone not extraordinarily desperate still buy a dime bag?
     
subego  (op)
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Nov 10, 2014, 09:28 PM
 
I'm biased towards liking feet, because I'm 6', so fingertip to fingertip is also 6'. Fingertip to sternum is 3'.

Otherwise, it's a ****ed up unit. Twelve?
     
jmiddel
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Nov 11, 2014, 01:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
I just ask for a pint, that's universal.
No, in Germany a pint is 'eine Halbe', a half of 'eine Mass' which is the standard portion (measure) of beer equal to 1 liter (33.8 fl oz).
     
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Nov 11, 2014, 04:37 AM
 
Irrelevant. If I ask for a pint they know what it is.
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Nov 11, 2014, 07:49 AM
 
But...you're not getting the same amount. They're just using the same terminology for "a glass" of varying sizes. This is a thread about measurements and it is very relevant....you just don't care because you're drunk.
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Nov 11, 2014, 07:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
I've been to Canada enough the past four years that I can easily convert F <-> C.

But I still have a lot of trouble quickly converting KPH to MPH and vice versa.
All our cars still have MPH on the speedometer......look closer! But that one's easy, it's just a straight multiplication factor.
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Nov 11, 2014, 08:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I'm biased towards liking feet, because I'm 6', so fingertip to fingertip is also 6'. Fingertip to sternum is 3'.

Otherwise, it's a ****ed up unit. Twelve?
12 is divisable by more numbers than 10, at least thats the reason that my father told me.
     
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Nov 11, 2014, 09:48 AM
 
There's a movement to move to a base 12 system, too. They talk about how you can still count with your fingers, only using knuckles or something.
     
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Nov 11, 2014, 11:07 AM
 
Yes, you use the thumb on one hand to count number of bones in each finger on the same hand. Quite clever,
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Nov 11, 2014, 12:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
12 is divisable by more numbers than 10, at least thats the reason that my father told me.
This sounds like retroactive justification, not historical reason.
     
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Nov 11, 2014, 12:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
12 is divisable by more numbers than 10, at least thats the reason that my father told me.
Yes, and n! = n (n-1) (n-2) ... is divisible by more numbers than 12 -- but that doesn't make it easier to use.
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Nov 11, 2014, 12:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
This sounds like retroactive justification, not historical reason.
As noted, it's a fractions argument.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Nov 11, 2014, 01:16 PM
 
I think the fractions thing is a somewhat welcome consequence of decisions, not the reason behind it.

Apparently, feet were originally divided into SIXTEEN units, not twelve.
Foot (unit) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Just like the chapels of Rome.
     
The Final Dakar
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Nov 11, 2014, 01:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
I think the fractions thing is a somewhat welcome consequence of decisions, not the reason behind it.
I'm not sure what you mean. I'm saying it's a feature that is a pro for it. I'm not claiming the people who came up with the system realized it was a great feature.
     
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Nov 11, 2014, 01:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
But...you're not getting the same amount.
So far, it has been, everyone has given me one imperial pint, even in the USA.
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