Why Metric is 10 Times Better

March 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm 8 comments

Asking why the U.S. has not switched to the metric system is almost as pointless as asking why we still observe Daylight Savings Time.

Some folks still have trouble converting between the two systems, but there are celebrity mnemonics that can be used to help remember typical conversions. For instance, 1 Ezra Pound ≈ 454 Billy Grahams.


Here’s a trivia question for you: Besides the U.S., what other countries have not officially adopted the metric system? Are you ready for the answer? According to the U.S. Metric Association, Liberia and Myanmar are the only two additional hold‑outs of significance.

Truth be known, the U.S. has gone metric. The yard, the pound, and the gallon are now officially defined by reference to metric units. In 1975, the federal government adopted metric as the nation’s “preferred measurement system.” Though the United States Metric Board was created to manage the transition, the only noticeable change by the early 1980s was that liquor and wine were labeled in liters.

But seriously, there are plenty of great reasons why we haven’t switch to Systeme Internationale:

  • Referring to football as a “game of millimeters” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
  • Inchworms will become centipedes.
  • Meter sticks are very stubborn — they won’t give an inch!
  • Currently, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The conversion to metric would mean that a gram of prevention is worth approximately one‑sixtieth a kilogram of cure. Yuck.
  • Nobody wants to go traipsing all over Hell’s half‑hectare.
  • Cemetery workers would strike if they were asked to bury the dead “six meters under.”
  • You could no longer love someone a bushel and peck. You would have to love them 37.9 liters.
  • The famous barroom reprimand, “Mind your p’s and q’s” (pints and quarts), would become, “Mind your h’s and l’s” (half‑liters and liters).

Seriously, folks, it’s high time we made the transition. People opposed to metrication are just being de‑feet‑ist.

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Drink It Green! What is Your Favorite Number?

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jay  |  May 18, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Americans shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. I’m Honduran and I can tell you we have to learn both systems and we get used to it. For example, we measure gas and diesel in gallons, we NEVER weigh ourselves in kilograms, and we measure our height in meters. we go to the grocery store for 3 pounds of meat and 2 liters of milk. Whenever we cook we wouldn’t have a problem understanding a recipe in metric or customary units. If you want to make a dress you’ll need 5 or 10 yards of whatever fabric you need. (this one is kinda funny –>) Speaking about fuel economy, My car gets about 30 Kilometers per gallon. And when it comes to construction, we measure a room in meters and a piece of wood in feet and inches.

    So it goes like that, we’re used to it and I like that. I almost never have conversion or understanding problems.

  • 2. venneblock  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I think you hit an underlying problem, Jay. You apparently deal with this conversion between systems on a daily basis. We almost always deal with the English system and rarely speak/work in metric. Hence, when we see both systems, we’re not as comfortable due to lack of exposure.

    But you’re right. We should just get over it. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    • 3. Jay  |  May 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      that’s true!, didn’t think of it that way.

  • 4. wernermeiringvdm  |  July 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Chemical Engineering Student from South Africa. The US system is stupid. It creates more work for engineers and increases the chance of a mistake. In South Africa we never use any units from the American system. But I guess the US always wants to be different. Look what they did to Rugby and Cricket.

  • […] (Incidentally, today is also National Metric Day, for what I hope are obvious reasons. But I won’t publish a post about metrication today; I did that last year.) […]

  • 6. I want to go Metric - Page 5  |  February 24, 2014 at 5:24 am

    […] 10 apostles." — US Senator Jesse Helms I have no opinion Just posting a couple of links. Why Metric is 10 Times Better | Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks Metrics on Dilbert.com Reply With […]

  • 7. Jessica Rose-Kim  |  June 15, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    mind your ps and qs is a typography reminder, because the metal letters were/are backwards when you print with a press.

    • 8. venneblock  |  July 27, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      I knew there were several theories about the origin of “Mind your p’s and q’s,” but I hadn’t heard this one before. At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_your_Ps_and_Qs, there are a number of theories described. Seems that no one knows for sure which one is correct, though.

      Personally, I like the pints/quarts and printing theories, and I am going to discredit the others… but I’m likely biased, since drinking beer and reading are two of my favorite activities. 🙂


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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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