The Art of Unix Programming

Richard Lightman richard at
Sun Feb 9 03:27:05 PST 2003

* Richard A Downing <richard.downing at> [2003-02-09 10:49]:
> James Cozine wrote:
> >> As for the British... they are way too stubborn to change I guess. :-)
> > And even they have gone metric!
> No.
> The government has gone metric, and they hang shop keepers who don't use
> metric, but we still use Feet and Inches like all true and sensible poeople
> everwhere.  Unfortunately the Thought Police have insisted that children
> are only taught metric, so this ancient way of life is dieing out.
> We still have Miles, Pints and Furlongs though.
> It's not that were stubborn, just right.
It is far more of a mixture.
IMHO, the laws go a bit too far for shopkeepers. I have no objection
to people buying and selling in pound or kilos, or even having
different prices for each (if they are clearly labeled). Let the
market sort itself out by people voting with their wallets.

The road signs are in mph, and many day to day things use imperial
units - these are not always the same as US.

Fortunately imperial units are mostly dead in schools. Luckily I
rarely have to explain that a foot-pount-force is a unit of energy,
and it is much easier the explain the difference between mass and
weight with kilos and newtons than with pounds and pounds-weight.

Science (except for some astronomy) is all metric, and engineering
is mostly in metric (there are some things that would be a whole
number of thousandths of an inch if there an inch were 0.0254m).

Imperial units have caused some very expensive mistakes. The
computer on one space mission was told to look to a mountain
several million metres tall because someone had told it to
expect a figure nautical miles. The sooner we stop using the
old units, the better.

1 foot: 1/3 of the distance between the king's nose and his oustretched
A yard is at least two measures of volume, one for sand, and another
for ale.
There are several definition of the ounce - all different weights.

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