back to article Pints under attack as Lord Howe demands metric-only UK

Lord Geoffrey Howe of Aberavon has demanded that the UK goes fully metric as soon as possible, describing the current mix of miles and kilometres and pints and litres as a "uniquely confusing shambles". Speaking yesterday in the House of Lords, the former chancellor and deputy prime minister insisted: "British weights and …


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  1. dogged

    Piss off, Geoffrey.

    1. Hieronymus Howerd

      Bit harsh

      I wouldn't mind a litre of beer just now.

      1. illiad

        litre of beer??

        that will be £5.70 sir... :) :)

        - its about £3.20 a pint here in sarth london.. :(

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: litre of beer??

          The litre isn't a proper MKS unit -you should ask for 1/1000 of a cubic metre of beer

    2. Greg J Preece

      Piss off yourself. Imperial's a right load of outdated shite people cling on to out of some misguided sense of "tradition". It's the same staring-into-the-past attitude that British people regurgitate every damn day, and it really gets on my tits. Why can't we get rid of all this old-fashioned crap and move on?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Year Zero

        "Why can't we get rid of all this old-fashioned crap and move on?"

        That's what Mao and Pol Pot said and we saw how well it worked out for them.

        It is absurd to change systems that work perfectly well (like selling beer in pints) just because they offend some people's OCD sense of consistency. There are much more important things to spend money and legislative time on.

        1. Ted Treen

          Re: @ Year Zero

          "some people's CDO*", please.

          *In alphabetical order, as it should be!

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Year Zero

          Wow, 4 posts to Godwination. (Okay, technically "Mao and Pol Pot" isn't the same as "Hitler", but I argue it's close enough. Maybe the metric equivalent.)

          Seriously, could you get any more ridiculous? "Metrication equals genocide" isn't even disguised as a rational argument, or even an emotive one for that matter, it's not an argument at all.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        For decades or longer people have been smart enough to use both systems. Why change it?

      3. RIch 24

        piss off Greg

        What's in a unit? Why piss all that money up the wall changing over?

        I wonder if some units related lobby group has got to the old duffer. (glass manufactures assn?)

      4. Eponymous Cowherd
        Thumb Down

        Re: Piss off yourself

        A Pint is a shade over 568 ml.

        If we go metric I imagine we'll follow the rest of Europe and have 500ml and 250 ml servings in place of the Pint and Half.

        So we'll only be getting something like 88% of a Pint or Half.

        Anyone want to bet on the prices being reduced accordingly?


        Didn't think so.

        1. The Envoy

          Re: Piss off yourself

          Worse still; some places - mainly in larger cities - that used to serve you a pint OR 500 ml sneakily shrunk the size to 400 ml instead of raising the price. Unacceptable for a person who like me prefer nothing smaller than 500 ml.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Piss off yourself

          Ignorance is bliss. Where I am, we drink 3 decis (300 mls) i.e. more than half a pint, half litres and litres (more than a pint by a respectable margin).

          Do you know what? The taste of the beer does not depend upon the size of the container! What's more, most beer here is stronger. Now where did I put those shillings, old pence, groats, farthings?

          Grow up and learn to adapt. Even the yanks are trying - very trying sometimes.

      5. JEDIDIAH

        People versus Lab Rats

        Metric is great for the lab, kind of nonsense outside the lab.

        The "modern" mindset likes to believe that any thing new is automatically good and anything old is automatically bad without stopping to consider things. The fact that traditional measurements evolved to suit the needs of people in an organic fashion is not necessarily a bad thing.

        Things based on 2 and 3 are great for sub dividing and eye-balling.

        More "modern" measures also demand more "modern" measuring implements to be at all usable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: People versus Lab Rats

          tried dividing ten by three? In decimal?

          Actually, 12 is a good unit, divisible by 1,2,3,4,6 and itself. However, lacking 12 fingers or toes it is about as friendly in the long run as octal or hexadecimal. How much does a cubic pint of water weight? Now, how about a litre of water? Do you begin to get it? Imagine the savings such consistency makes when applied across a whole country and its schools and industry. It is not a waste of money to go the whole hog. It is wasteful to persist with two systems and, as a result, have children and adults who are barely competent with one and useless with the other, effecting their working and studying ability. What the Americans do is irrelevant.

        2. Burkhard Kloss

          Re: People versus Lab Rats

          > Things based on 2 and 3 are great for sub dividing and eye-balling.

          If you have trouble dividing metric measurements (i.e. 10s and 100s) by 2 or 3 (to a practical accuracy), then it doesn't matter whether beer's sold in pints or litres, you've had enough.

          Trying to change the measurements is a complete waste of time though, since it attempts to solve a non-existent problem. Clearly we've managed to fix the political system and the economy while I was having a post-prandial nap

      6. The Fuzzy Wotnot

        @Greg J Preece

        OK mate, if that's how you feel then you can pay to have all the millions of roads signs up and down the UK "recoded" from miles to kilometres, out of you own pocket!

        1. trog-oz

          Australian managed to change all it's road signs to metric in 1970 and it's a bigger country than the UK. We have more signs as well. At a junction there isn't just a sign telling you how far to the next place (like here in the UK) but distances to all the places the road goes to. The little men did it in a long weekend too,.

      7. Rampant Spaniel

        It isn't tradition for me at least, I Just fail to see enough of a benefit to justify the cost. Especially in the current economic climate. It has been done in some situations where the cost was low, such as the sale of spirits which just required and optic change, and wine I think is sold in metric glass sizes.

        To switch Beer from pints, it would mean a large switch of glasses, for what benefit? Just to unify on a single measurement. It isn't like you need a specific amount of beer (other than more), a litre isn't better, personally I would rather see beer sold by the yard! But seriously, if there is a valid reason, like in building a house as mentioned earlier, than sure, if the benefit (such as alignment with Europe for purchasing materials and setting standards) outweighs the cost of retooling I agree, but in those cases it has probably already been done.

        This is just another case of an out of touch, overdue for retirement fossil wasting our time and money that would be better directed towards improving the huge ass hole we are currently in. We have wasted billions recently on aircraft carriers, planes, NHS procurement etc ad nauseum (not that we didn't need them, we were just inefficient to the point of idiocy), it's about time we got down to some basics, like making more than we spend, investing in our peoples education and health and not making dumb ass decisions that waste a fortune.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      What the fuck does it matter?

      I buy petrol by the pound (sterling), and milk by the carton.

      I too was educated in metric 71... Then went to the US in 1990 and got issued with a wooden ruler with inches along both edges - retro or what?

      Its just another excuse to waste taxpayers money.


      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Agree

        The US also has a similar arrangement to ours, if not even more confusing as they have 3 different gallons. Tools come in SAE (imperial in effect, but they didn't like the word imperial) and metric, they use cups instead of weight for most baking, and yet shit still gets done.

        I buy my petrol in US Gallons, I don't care what the unit is, I pull the lever until the bikes full. The bike has never rejected fuel because it wasn't sold in litres. On the tools front it means owning more tools which is a bit of a pain. Milk is sold in quarts or gallons, the exact size is rather inconsequential, if I need a set amount I measure it. I don't think I've ever been bothered by it, it's just how it is and you get on with it. It's not exactly killing anyone.

        The comments about the size reducing but the price remaining the same are spot on.

        I was born in the uk in the 80's, I have no issues using either American or traditional imperial or metric. It's not exactly difficult to do.

        Whilst I can see it would make life simpler for the hard of thinking, there are far more important issues to deal with right now and the potential for the gov't to screw this up is immense.

        1. Steve the Cynic

          Re: Agree

          Re: US units. The worst part of the US use of pints/gallons/miles/etc. is that, despite some of the units not being the same size as apparently equivalent Imperial one, a substantial fraction of Americans call them "English"*. This applies more to length than volume measures, and we have the insanity of the US fluid ounce being bigger than the Imperial one, but the pint and gallon being smaller. (Imperial pint: 20 Imp-floz, US pint: 16 US-floz). Reading /Have Spacesuit, Will Travel/ as a British teenager in Britain introduced me to the baffling assertion that "A pint's a pound the world around."...

          * - well, they did in the 1980s when I lived over there.

          1. Irony Deficient

            “English” units

            Steve the Cynic, the reason why a substantial fraction of Americans call US units “English” is because their definitions originally came from English statutes. The main difference between US units and Imperial units is in the measures of volume, viz the bushel (dry) and the gallon (wet), and the subsidiary units based upon these two. Our bushel remains identical to the corn bushel adopted during the reign of William III., and our gallon remains identical to the wine gallon adopted during the reign of Anne.

            Our “wine pint” of water comes in at about 7300 grains (473 g or so), so it’s around 4% heavier than a pound avoirdupois. Does anyone have the specific gravity of wine handy?

          2. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: Agree

            Yeah, they got pissed off with calling it english so they invented SAE (Society of American Engineers) for tools at least, but it is in essence imperial.

            These days they refer to their 7 pint gallon as a US Gallon, and their other gallon as a US Dry gallon. Interesting they switched from calling it 'english', especially as they used a different size pint, quart and gallon.

            I do sometimes have to remember to convert US > Imperial and back when talking with relatives. I just find it amusing that an average person can cope quite easily with 3 different systems and others find it so difficult. The funny thing is, I think I actually prefer imperial to metric in most things. Base 10 is great for maths, but for actually working with I prefer imperial.

            With tools and similar things it can be important, you need to have exactly the right size spanner, but when buying milk or mince (ground beef to the salad dodgers) it doesn't really matter. The world will not be a significantly worse or better place if beer came in half litres, although we all know the price would go up and the volume would go down.

            I just find it so amusing that the old fart is so out of touch with reality that in the middle of the biggest financial crisis and depression of nearly the last 100 years he wants to waste untold amounts of money changing something that frankly doesn't matter. Does a road sign being in miles actually change anything. Most if not all cars and bikes readout in both, newer vehicles can switch between the two on their lcd displays. I used to believe the house of lords was an important safety guard against a loony house of commons, now it seems more and more that they are nothing more than a hindrance and a waste of space.

            There is a very strong argument to be made for a mandatory retirement age in the house of lords. Howe was born in 1926, making him approximately 86. If this is the most important thing he can come up with I think it's time he was shipped off somewhere with a carriage clock and his ridiculously large pension.

            1. Davidoff

              so they invented SAE (Society of American Engineers)

              SAE is the 'Society of Automotive Engineers' (originally 'Society of Automobile Engineers').

              1. Rampant Spaniel

                Re: so they invented SAE (Society of American Engineers)

                apologies, my mind wandered off to another definition :)

            2. Tom 13

              Re: 7 pint gallon

              It's still 8 pints to the 'Merkin gallon. Granted those would be 'Merkin pints.

        2. hoboroadie

          it would make life simpler for the hard of thinking

          That is one of the few reasonable arguments for supporting this idea. Considering how the hard of thinking are being pandered to these days, some might suppose this issue will get some credence. The true cause, industrial efficiency, does rather raise my hackles; As a Californian Geezer, I still resent the loss of the fifth and quarter gallons of Whiskey. The metric sizes feel feminized to my hand. YMMV

        3. AdamWill

          Re: Agree

          "The US also has a similar arrangement to ours, if not even more confusing as they have 3 different gallons. Tools come in SAE (imperial in effect, but they didn't like the word imperial) and metric, they use cups instead of weight for most baking, and yet shit still gets done."

          With much cursing and moaning. Ask a contractor.

          Better yet, ask any Canadian contractor, who has to deal with both sets of crap.

          1. xerocred

            Re: Agree

            The worst thing I found in the US roadsigns was lack of consistency...

            Exit 1/4 mile

            Exit 400 yds

            Exit 2000 feet

            And that they were in english, not a symbol...

          2. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: Agree

            Is it really that difficult? Not being mean but I was raised with metric at school and imperial at home. I never found an issue with carpentry, even when rebuilding a house, but I am not a professional. Plus, you choose to live with the French, it's your own fault! :)

            1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

              Re: Agree

              I agree with Lord Howe's basic assertion: that the UK's current system of using both Imperial and metric is just stupid. It makes far more sense to standardise. You get the benefits of much easier calculations for a start. No need to remember how many barleycorns* to the foot, for one thing. Everywhere else except the UK and the US uses the Metric system. Yes, it was popularised by the French—although first proposed by a >Briton, so you don't get to use the nationalist card.

              The Imperial yard and the Metric metre are so similar, many road signs have been positioned at the equivalent distance in metres, not yards, specifically with a view to easy conversion to metric.

              Nobody's suggesting replacing every existing road sign right away either: you can just slap vinyl stickers over the existing signs to update the numbers and units. Everything else stays the same. All you need is a printer who can print adhesive vinyl stickers, and those aren't particularly hard to find. They're not even all that expensive: given the quantities you'd be ordering, and the bulk discounts the printing firms would offer—there's plenty of competition too—you could probably do London's signs for about £200K or so. Not free, certainly, but it'll keep some people in gainful employment. That's quite a good thing to do during a period of recession.

              Yes, you'd see a lot of signs saying "Charing Cross 1600 mt." instead of "Charing Cross 1 m", but it's still metric and the actual distance hasn't changed. It's a damned sight cheaper than the typical "Can't Do" attitude of folks here who seem to believe every single sign in the country would need to be re-sited right away for some unexplained reason.

              There's nothing in UK law that requires every sign to be exactly a multiple of 1680 yards, or 1000 metres, from whatever they're pointing at. They're only there to tell you how far away something is. You can move them about later, during ordinary road maintenance cycles, when you'd have had to spend the money on replacing the signs anyway.

              See? Not difficult, is it?

              As for the whole "pints vs. litres" bollocks... please! If you can understand litres of petrol, why can't you understand beer sold in litres too? Instead of asking for a pint, you'd ask for a "half". Instead of asking for a half-pint, you'd ask for "a quarter". Not rocket science, is it?

              And, yes, unscrupulous pub landlords and supermarkets will doubtless not drop their prices slightly to take account of the changes, but so what? Inflation and taxes will have wiped out any differences in very short order anyway; this is an utter non-argument.

              There are very good reasons for switching to the Metric system. There are no good reasons whatsoever for sticking with two inconsistent systems, one of which, like Microsoft Word's file format, isn't even consistent with itself.

              If you're against full metrification because of the "we manage today with the existing complexity and inconsistencies", you cannot possibly have any problem with merely having to cope with bigger numbers on some signs, and ever-so-slightly-smaller beer glasses.

              The French, Germans and Italians have been using the Metric system for generations. It's not hard. It's incredibly easy. That's the whole bloody point of it!

              * (British shoe sizes are still measured in Barleycorns. Presumably, the US Barleycorn is also slightly different from the British one.)

              1. jonathanb Silver badge

                Re: Agree

                The British and American barleycorns are the same, however the length in barleycorns of a size 0 shoe is different.

            2. AdamWill

              Re: Agree

              There are, for instance, two sets of measurements for screw sizes - one metric, one imperial. When you're working on projects in NA, particularly Canada, you're quite likely to come across both. So you're going to need two sets of screws and two sets of drill bits. Which is pretty stupid. It's also pretty difficult to eyeball the difference between a 1/8" hole and a 0.4cm hole (or whatever, I didn't bother looking up the real units).

          3. AdamWill

            Re: Agree

            Oh, although I should have said, cups and spoons for baking are awesome, and way easier to deal with then weighing out every crappy thing. I avoid UK recipes like the plague now.

            1. Stephen Allan Swain

              Re: Agree

              Conversely, I hate recipes with cups and spoons - I can never get a repeatable result. Plus more washing up. My preferred way of measuring ingredients, where possible, is to add everything to a large mixing bowl using digital scales - just keep pressing the 'zero' or whatever they call it button. Also add water/milk this way (making the assumption that milk is pretty much the same density as water).

              1. AdamWill

                Re: Agree

                you have to buy actual measuring cups/spoons. you can't just grab whatever you use to stir your tea and call it a 'teaspoon', you need an Official Measuring Teaspoon. These might be hard to buy in the UK, I dunno. In NA you can buy 'em everywhere, in natty sets.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Agree

              For American recipes you just need sugar anyway, do n't you? No other ingredients are there in sufficient quantity to matter.

              I do wonder why so many contributors to a technical site concerning faintly modern technology find things such as the metric system, weighing and measuring quite so difficult. Worrying if they are in work.

              1. jonathanb Silver badge

                Re: Agree

                Usually corn syrup rather than proper sugar. Most of the world's sugar cane comes from Cuba, and for some reason, Americans don't like them.

        4. Irony Deficient

          three different US gallons?

          Rampant Spaniel, I know of the wet US gallon (Anne’s wine gallon) and the dry US gallon (⅛ of William III.’s corn bushel); what is the third type of US gallon that you have in mind?

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: three different US gallons?

            Sorry it was Wet, Dry and Imperial, only 2 of them are specifically American.

      2. illiad

        Re: Agree

        hohoho yes!!! :) I had forgotten USA still has that!!! :)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just shows how out of touch any politician or former politician is

      1. Chika

        He was rarely IN touch when he was part of the cabinet.

    5. Fred Mbogo

      Metric/Imperial Gaffe

      If a NASA mission can fail because of the metrics/imperial qwango imagine how chaotic the rest of existence is.

      In my country we use a mix-match of units (being a former American interest) and it sucks balls. We use liters for drinks and gallons for fuel. We use pounds for meat and kilos for veggies. We use kilometers for distance and inches for dick size. Cooking is a goddamned nightmare as our products can include weight, volume and usually, it does not match what you are trying to cook.

      Kill it with fire. Its inelegant, unscientific and outdated. Conversions are a nightmare with a system that does not follow a pattern.

  2. Crisp

    Point 57 of a litre please.

    It's the same fizzy glass of joy no matter what measuring system you use. Until I can actually buy a litre of beer at a pub, I'm not going to ask for one.

    And who buys milk in pints? Down my local shop it's either a 1 litre bottle, or 2 litres or 4.

    1. Tom 38
      Thumb Down

      Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

      Down my shop (Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Asda, corner stores, M&S), you can buy milk in 4 metric sizes, 568ml, 1.134l, 2.268l and 3.40l.

      I've never once seen a 4 litre bottle of milk in a country with the Imperial system. In the US you can get a US gallon of milk, which is 3.78l (and sold at that size).

    2. The Bit Wrangler

      Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

      "who buys milk in pints?"

      We all do - those 1,2 and 4 containers are 1, 2, and 4 (plus 1/2 and 6) PINTS. Check out Tesco/Asda/whoever's websites.

      I agree with your first point, though. It doesn't matter how it's measured it's the convenient (and traditional) amount that's the issue. Half a litre isn't very satisfying (despite being only 68ml less than a pint.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

        Aye, but with metric, a half of shandy would last the whole night...

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

        Normal milk is in pints (or rather multiples of 568ml). Filtered milk, jersey milk and uht milk tends to be in litres.

    3. vic 4

      Re: who buys milk in pints

      I do, glass pint size bottles delivered to my door step. If only the delivered beer in the same way (and that it wouldn't get nicked).

      1. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: who buys milk in pints

        I'd be happy if they could deliver beer, to my door, at the same price as milk!

        You can guess which brand

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

      *I* buy milk in pints! Have done for YEARS and YEARS??

      Pop into Tesco/M&S son. Maybe read the label before you purchase this time?

      The retailers have changed to Litres because they make more money! 2 litres for the same price (and more) of 4 pints.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

      Personally I buy it in the sizes it's available in.

      I buy milk in the size of bottle that is delivered to the doorstep, I don't really care if it's metric or imperial, it's a bottle of milk.

      I buy beer in the pub in pints, but the bottled 500ml ales that I get from the corner shop seem to work just as well as the been from the pub, although I'm about 7% less drunk per bottle.

      Really, hanging on to Imperial is an utter embarrassment.

    6. illiad

      Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

      no, actually its 2 pint, 4 pint, or 8 pint....

      - 1.136 L, 2.272 L, 4.544L... :)

      1. Not That Andrew

        Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

        The corner shops around here sell milk by the pint but the supermarkets sell it by the litre. Strange.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

          Round my way it's vice versa. Supermarkets do two pints, corner-stores do liters. I imagine that way their price looks less exorbitant compared to the supermarket!

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Point 57 of a litre please.

      If you check around you'll find you can buy it in either system depending on the supplier.

      (Ah I see this place has finally worked out how to avoid the pink box impinging on the text window for those who prefer to remain unidentified. Glad they managed to work it out eventually.)

  3. Chazmon

    Beer and milk shouldnt be much of a problem but road signs?

    An awful lot of tip ex is required

    1. Caff

      Only recently changed the road signs in Ireland, didn't take that much effort. For a few years though the speed limit signs were mph while the distances were in km

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        1 - Ireland is broke, why were they burning money on switching road signs?

        2 - slight difference in scale between the Irish and UK road network.

        3 - the UK is broke too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        They had started the conversion back in the mid 90's - using a different colour for the new metric ones. Suspect Ireland has a lot less road signs than the UK though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Recently"?

          According to the CIA World fact book, Ireland has 96,000 km of roads. The UK has only 4 times as much, at 394,000 km. Given that the UK has more than 12 times the population of Ireland, the Irish road network is proportionally 3 times as long as the UK road network.

          (And we didn't know we were broke when we replaced all the signs!)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Recently"?

            and look at the state of the irish economy...

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: "Recently"?

          People keep trotting this out as if no-one had ever done it before.

          The Canadians have done it, and they've got a road network way bigger than the UK's. The Australians have done it, the Kiwis have done it. In each of these places, mass confusion, panic, road chaos and national bankruptcy followed in short order.

          Oh wait, no it didn't.

          How much dumber are British drivers than their colonial cousins, that they somehow couldn't cope with a changeover?

      3. I think so I am?

        the big problem will be people seeing 100 or 120 signs and thinking that's 100 and 120 mph.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          I did

          But only got up to 90 due to traffic

    2. Zimmer
      Thumb Up

      Not only that..

      Just think of the cost (not just in Tippex) of changing every roadsign. Even at a pound a go it must add up to a tidy sum (and you can bet it will cost 100 a go using a friendly Govt. appointed contractor) and therein lies the reason we have not rushed into changing miles for km.

      Looking on the bright side, thoae who want a reduction in speed limits could argue for adopting km and leaving all of those signs as they are... (cue J Clarkson brigade downvotes as they fail to see the joke....).

      1. Shakje

        Re: Not only that..

        As mentioned below, the money would go into infrastructure work, which would go into workers' pockets, which would go into the economy. Like how they've solved the recession in the US, every time there's been a major recession.

        1. xerocred

          Re: Not only that..

          Theres good gdp and bad gdp. Building the pyramids increased gdp, put money in the pockets of someone, but it didnt improve the lot of the population... Like building say canals or diverting water or improving infrastructure instead.

          Changing roadsigns and pints is like building the pyramids, no practical benefit whatsoever.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not preally

      This is a standard argument trotted out all the time, most signs are replaced every 10-15 years, you have a phase of a couple of months where they're being replaced, but I doubt people are going to think that it's 200meters from Leeds to London.

      1. mark1978

        Re: Not preally

        "Most signs are replaced every 10-15 years". Not so, try every 30 years or so. Quite often much longer.

        1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

          Re: Not preally

          Where I live there are still a lot of the original cast iron finger posts. Lovely to see 3/4mile on a sign post!

        2. Chika

          Re: Not preally

          Always assuming that some arsehole hasn't nicked them in the intervening period, of course!

      2. Neil Greatorex

        Re: Not preally

        "most signs are replaced every 10-15 years"

        Not on the A1 north of Peterborough..

  4. blackcat Silver badge

    metrically literate elite?

    The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

    Just cos schools can't teach kids to count in anything other than base 10.....

    1. Anonymous John

      Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

      Not with a certain Mars probe some years ago.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

        They seem to manage just fine apart from that.

        So people really can't count in anything other than base 10? It seems if its a bit hard we don't bother teaching it any more. I do a lot of work with the USA so have to be versed in both sets of units. Also being an engineer many products are still measured in inches. Just today I have been dealing with a thermal pad that is only sold in thou thicknesses.

        1. Greg J Preece

          Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

          Yes, I can count in base 8, then 12, then 16, or however the fuck Imperial weights go, changing base at different scales, or I could just use something consistent and easy. Using Imperial doesn't make you cleverer, it just means you waste more of your time.

          1. JDX Gold badge

            Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

            Maybe you should resist telling other people what would be easier for them. I don't see my near-centurian grandfather struggling with imperial units.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

          >So people really can't count in anything other than base 10?

          Seems strange that multiples of inches are 12 to the foot, but fractions are 'thou' thousandths of an inch...

          1. GBE

            Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

            > Seems strange that multiples of inches are 12 to the foot, but

            > fractions are 'thou' thousandths of an inch...

            In most common, everyday uses (carpentry, plumbing, mechanical fasteners, etc.), thousandths are not used. Fractions are. You have to know how to count by 64ths. And to make it even more confusing, they don't just leave the value in 64ths (5/64, 6/64, 7/64, 8/64, 9/64, ...), you have to reduce the fractions (5/64, 3/32, 7/64, 1/8, 9/64...

            Mechanical engineers and machinists use decimal values (thousandths) when designing and manufacturing parts, but nobody in everyday life does.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

            "but fractions are 'thou' thousandths of an inch

            No. Americans would call that a 'mil'. 'Thou' is a British measurement. In the UK 'mil' could refer to 'millimetre' or 'millilitre'.

            Anyhow. I'm in favour of the metric system dying a death outside of the scientific community. The best system of units for a human to use in every practical situation is one where the counts are within a easily manageable range and precision, say between a quarter and a score. Outside that range the moderately arithmetically challenged (roughly two thirds of the general population) tend to become befuddled.

            That makes metric units ok for roughly 33% of situations, unless non powers of 1000 are used, e.g. 10s of cl for beverages in France as opposed to 100s of ml in the UK.

            For a trivial indication of this, check out the statistics for deaths by incorrect dosage in hospitals in the states compared to Britain.

            1. DN4

              Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

              "Outside that range the moderately arithmetically challenged (roughly two thirds of the general population) tend to become befuddled"

              Funny I live in a civilised part of the world where the metric system is used exclusively and don't observe anything like that. Probably it happens only in the imagination of imperial system proponents...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

                Also 12 has a lot of factors.

                It is an ideal unit division.

                We use 10 only because we have 10 fingers, and therefore our numerical system is also 10-based.

                There is nothing intrinsically great about 10 otherwise.

                1. P. Lee

                  Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

                  Except that base-10 has symbols 0-9, which is inadequate for the task.

                  Better to go to base-11 and keep them all in one significant place.

                2. veti Silver badge

                  Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

                  Yes, base 12 is great. If we used a base 12 number system our lives would be so much easier, and we'd probably have reached our present state of technology in about 1000 AD (that's 1728 in decimal, or 1B8 years ago). By now we'd have time machines, and we could go back and admire the glory of the Babylonians, who knew this.

                  Unfortunately that's not the way history panned out, and we're stuck with base 10. It's what kids are taught from the age they begin to read. It's just simpler to stick with one base than trying to switch between many.

                  And the hardest part of the Imperial system has always been, not working in strange bases, but remembering which particular base applies to which calculation. 3, 12, 16, 20, 24, 120...

                  Quick, how many ells in a perch?

            2. flying_walrus

              Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

              We use the metric system in medicine, so our inability to dose properly is caused by something else

          3. JEDIDIAH

            Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

            > Seems strange that multiples of inches are 12 to the foot, but fractions are 'thou' thousandths of an inch...

            Nope. The traditional measurements are base 2 fractions. Half. Quarter. 8ths. 16ths. 32nds.

            Lab geeks vs. carpenters.

            1. Irony Deficient

              traditional subdivisions

              JEDIDIAH, the traditional subdivision of the inch is twelve lines to the inch and twelve points to the line. However, other variations exist — you’ve noted the preference in carpentry to halve, halve again. Another example comes from typesetting, where the inch was divided into six picas and the pica into twelve points, resulting in the typesetter’s point being twice as long as the traditional point.

      2. I think so I am?

        Re: The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

        Or a rather expensive space telescope

    2. Schultz
      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: 'mercans seem to be doing OK,

        So where is the UK?

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: metrically literate elite?

      Homer Simpson, on declaring the virtues of Springfield

      "...And we were the first town in the country to reject the metric system!"

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: metrically literate elite?

      Yes, they're dealing with it so well that the first page in pretty much any US Haynes manual is a big full page warning along the lines of: "It is extremely important that you are familiar with the metric system, with metric measurements and fasteners." Etc. etc.

    5. l353a1

      Re: metrically literate elite?

      >The 'mercans seem to be doing OK with feet, inches and funny sizes gallons.

      That's because they only have to teach the kids one set of units, so they end up with a detailed knowledge. In Britain they are taught in metric, with only a smattering of the most common Imperial units. Most British kids don't know how many cubic inches there are in a gallon or square feet in an acre, whereas a lot of Americans do. In fact, most British kids don't even know how yards there are in a mile.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Finally !

    Having been educated exclusively in metric since 1971 (I was in the first year to go metric), it's a little galling to hear people dribbling on in pounds, feet and inches ... especially when you hear the UK could have gone metric in 1818.

    Time for a P.J. O'Rourke quote ...

    "Drugs have taught an entire generation of Americans the metric system".

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Finally !

      Whereas in the UK its the other way around... remember Ali G asking an MP if children should 'deal in ounces and quarters?'

    2. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Re: Finally !

      So was I mate! I was born in 1971 but my Dad taught me how to use tools, fixtures and fittings in both metric and imperial, and how to quickly convert from one to the other in my head. I did archery for several years and lot of the measurements there are in both metric and imperial, from the target distances to the measurements on the kit itself.

  6. Charles Calthrop

    my cold dead hands

    the rest of the world should adopt the pint as a mesurment

    the pint is perfect

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: my cold dead hands

      We have done just that in Finland for beer. Beer comes in 0,33 litres, a pint and one litre.

      As for the 1.134l marking on a 2pt bottle of milk, that always makes me laugh. I almost wonder if it's intentional to make the metric system look difficult.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: my cold dead hands

        Interesting, and I notice in the photos that there is a new meaning for the English phrase panty-pants!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yep thats definitely something that should be high on the agenda whilst there is so little else going on to worry about in the country!

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Aren't massive infrastructure projects ...

      ... what economists say are needed in times of recession ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Posh boy government are not just out of touch, they're on a different fking planet!

      1. LPF

        Whereas wroking class scum government, dropped us in the crap to the tune of 1,000,000,000 pounds!

        I'll take the posh boys everytime, at least they know the difference between credit and actual money you cretin!

        1. IT veteran

          At Least

          The last government knew the difference between 1 billion (1,000,000,000) and 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000).

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: At Least

            As Ronald Reagan once said: "A billion here, a billion there - pretty soon you're talking real money."

            I've seen no evidence that the last government knew the difference between the national budget and a hole in the ground.

            1. Zot

              Re: At Least

              Is that the American Billion or a British billion? There's a 1000x difference you know!

  8. Michael Souris

    About bloody time

    I too was educated in the metric system from 1971 - brand new rulers, clume measures, etc - and still we have to put up with silly sods who can't order beer in litres.

    1. RIch 24

      Re: About bloody time

      I was educated in metricery since 1970. I still dont "fancy a litre after work"

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: About bloody time

        You can still call it a pint and should still get served. I think spirits and wine are already metric, no one crying for the gill? The important things is weights and measures but seeing how often you get fucked over there anyway, changing the units will hardly make a difference.

        In Germany fruit and veg is often bought by the "Pfund" which is taken to mean 500g and the sky still hasn't fallen on our heads!

  9. Code Monkey

    I won't be happy til I'm ordering a nice 0.3317 of a Bulgarian Aribag of beer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      El Reg Alternative Units

      Tut tut... volumes here are measured in Olympic-sized swimming pools. By my calculations are correct, the proper El Reg expression for a pint would be 227.2 nano-Olympic-sized swimming pools (nOssp... nanoPools?).

      Please take your unscientific Bulgarian Airbag measurements elsewhere... and good day to you sir!

      ; )

      1. Code Monkey

        Re: El Reg Alternative Units

        Of course you are correct. Mea cupla.

        May I offer you a 227.2 nanoPool of Blighty's Finest?

  10. Velv

    Can I be the first to suggest we abolish both the Imperial and the Metric system and we immediately adopt the ElReg system of weights and measures.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I'll have a 60,000th of a brontosaurus* of your Best Bitter, please barman!

      *rough estimate, should be same order of magnitude...

    2. Christoph

      Why not stick with the good old furlong / firkin / fortnight system?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Bloody good point... pubs replace glasses through replacement of breakages... but will continue to be buying their beer from brewers in traditional units that are relevant to the purpose. A nine gallon cask can be lifted by one reasonably built person, an eighteen requires two, but is easily to load onto the dray by yourself if you use a skid.

      2. Usually Right or Wrong

        I seem to remember...

        a seismic chart that a geologist had scaled in milli-furlongs per micro-fortnight. The scale was close to feet per second, so your system would work, except for the health hazards of having a couple of firkins of beer at the pub.

        1. Blue eyed boy

          Re: I seem to remember...

          The speed of light is close to 1,000,000,000 feet per second. Isn't that alone sufficient justification for retaining our system of units, particularly for the study of relativity?

    3. veti Silver badge

      Reg units

      Unfortunately, the Reg unit system is woefully incomplete. It lacks units for - among other things - energy and force. Okay, we could derive those, but "mass" and "time" are pretty fundamental, and it's missing those too.

      For mass, the obvious candidate is the Bulgarian Airbag. Too obvious and too crude. Instead, how about the mass of an average rhino (1 Rh = 1900 kg)? (

      For time I suggest the Siriturn (St), the time required for a Cupertino-based corporation to fix an embarrassing search result returned by one of its gimmicks: about 1.37 days.

  11. PhilipN Silver badge


    To those of us of a certain age, good old British weights and measures were the staple method of learning arithmetic.

    We were also taught to not split infinitives (cough! cough!).

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Shame!

      You realise that the rule about the split infinitive is a continental import, yes? It was invented when French-educated scholarly types (Actually this isn't strictly fair as the French they spoke was actually London French and very different from Paris French) attempted to forcibly apply Latin rules of grammar to English. This raises a conflict with one particular point of Latin; that being it is entirely inflected. The infinitive is a single grammatical unit, whilst English, like many other non-inflected languages, forms the infinitive with an additional particle or auxiliary word, such as "to".

      It is "impossible" (for a given value of imbloodypossible) to split the infinitive in inflected languages as that would require splitting a word. Applying this rule to a non-inflected language with weak word-order-meaning and flexible sentence structure makes little sense and can create very awkward sentences if the writer chooses to pointlessly apply it without considering whether there is a reason to do so.

      1. Jon Double Nice
        Thumb Up

        Re: Shame!

        Thanks Graham - Thaham.

      2. matt 83

        Re: Shame!

        And French she spoke full fair and fetisly

        After the school of Stratford atte Bowe,

        For French of Paris was to her unknowe.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Shame!

          French cockney rhyming slang must be an interesting thing to hear...

    2. Blue eyed boy

      Re: Shame!

      Hear hear! And that was before we had calculators to take the drudgery out of arithmetic. I survived. We got calculators now, so if we must deal with foreigners using Napoleon's foreign units, it is easy enough to convert.

      In my student days the thickness of the specimens I was using in my postgrad experiments was given as 250 microns in my thesis, although my supervisor had specified a thickness of 10 thou. In fact the techies in the workshop ground them down to 1/4 mm thick. They still worked.

      Exercise for the reader: how to convert from the continental fuel *consumption* figure in the spec of a car, usually quoted in litres per 100km, to our fuel *economy* figure expressed in miles per gallon? For a start, these measurements are in inverse proportion.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cars in.... Both...

    We buy litres of petrol, but burn them in miles per gallon!

    1. pPPPP

      Re: Cars in.... Both...

      That's the one that annoys me. In other countries they can pretty easily convert fuel economy into currency.

      I'd be happy enough going metric, but for most things it doesn't really matter. I never need to convert miles into anything else, so miles are fine. I never convert pints into anything else. I never buy a kilo or a pound of fruit. And for things like meat, a pound is as near enough half a kilo to not make a difference.

      As for pints of beer, honestly I think the beer and how much it costs is more important than the glass it's in. And the cost of conversion makes the whole exercise a bit pointless.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Cars in.... Both...

        Indeed, a lot of trades / substances have their units

    2. Severen

      Re: Cars in.... Both...

      The only reason we buy fuel in litres is that the price in gallons is bloody terrifying!

      Imagine if petrol stations still showed the price in gallons. My local fuel dispensary would be advertising it at 612.9p!

      There'd be uproar, so our lizard-in-human-form overlords deem it should be sold by the litre.

      And while I'm on the subject: Why the Hell do they bother with the .9p? Why not simply round it up (Let's face it, they'll never round it down!) to the nearest penny, that way they'd have saved a fortune in white Fablon figure 1's.

      AND BREATHE!!!

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Cars in.... Both...

        and indeed the litre is too small for reasonable efficiency measurements, so you get kilometres per 100l.

        Not that most petrol tanks will take 100 litres. 55 litre tanks don't appear to be particularly metric in ideology.

        May I present a new buzzword: "wrong-sized: dumb measurement used for foolish consistency."

        1. KjetilS

          Re: Cars in.... Both...

          Quite a lot of cars show efficiency as litres per 100km

    3. Soruk

      Re: Cars in.... Both...

      I've even seen that awful halfway-house unit, fuel economy measured in miles per litre!

  13. Pete Spicer

    First up, who buys milk in pints? I do, all the time. All the supermarkets around here do it in 1/2/4/6 pint containers.

    The thing, I find metric much less meaningful than imperial. I'm a fairly big bloke, and for me an inch is just slightly thicker than my thumb, a foot is about the length of my foot and so on, plus 'pounds' make more sense to me than kilograms do for weighing anything.

    To me, metric makes more sense when you're doing engineering or anything of any precision but for anything else, where approximate judgement is acceptable, I can make much more sense of it via imperial... because it was inspired by us and how we interact with the world. I have no idea how the hell metric came to be, none of the measurements relate to anything tangible that I can see.

    1. Kevin Johnston


      Been a particular bugbear of mine for quite some time and I'm sure people are heartily sick of hearing me.

      Imperial values are based on real-world items unlike metric units (remember that the 'unit' of weight in metric land is the gram(me) and you need almost 30 of them to make up an ounce whilst the 'unit' of length is a metre). Talk about Little and Large, one is too small to be usable in isolation and the other is so large it is unwieldy and the 'standard' step size is 1,000.

      Why can't we just do what any sensible engineer does and use the most appropriate units for the job. When you are baking you can use ounces or multiples of 25g (see how well we metricated there), in woodworking that'll be feet and inches for rabbit hutches or mm for cabinetwork.

      The units you use also define tolerances so if you were to say 'an inch and a half' you would expect 1/32" either way whereas for 47mm you would expect it to be less than a gnat's off.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: bravo

        Yep, I estimate distance in inches. I then measure and calculate in (milli)meters. Works for me.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Kevin Johnston

        The step size is not 1000 in metric. It's 10.

        In woodworking we use both centimetres and millimetres. We measure drives in kilometres and walks in metres.

        We buy milk in litres. We measure liquids and flour for cooking in decilitres. We order glasses of wine in centilitres. We measure medicine in millilitres.

        For weight we use kilos and grammes. When ordering mince from the counter, but don't expect to get precisely 350 grammes!

        It's all about tolerances and precision. The beauty of it is they are easily convertible and the selection unit gives you an idea of the precision.

        1. P. Lee

          Re: @Kevin Johnston

          The ugliness of it is that it is too precise. Its like telling the time to 1/100's of a second - quite accurate and mostly irrelevant.

    2. Steve Graham

      No, mate, you're just fooling yourself. You're just comfortable with imperial measurements because you've always used them, not because they have some kind of mystical "rightness".

      Like some of the other posters, I learned the metric system in primary school (a long, long time ago) and never bothered to use or "internalise" imperial units. I would literally have no intuitive idea if a room was big or small if you told me it was 20 feet long. I'd have to convert to 6 metres to get a picture of it (because I do know that 10 feet is about 3 metres).

      I don't know my weight in pounds or stones, nor my height in feet and inches.

      About the only imperial measurement that I have a feel for is the mile, because I'm used to it on road signs. Oh, and pints, although just the other night, I was given a half-litre glass of cider at the bar of a music venue (in the UK).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No, mate, you're just fooling *yourself*.

        I know my weight in pounds and hight in feet.

        I've no interest in knowing what it is in Kilo's, I have no need to know. I know how tall 6' is, 1.72M means nothing to no one in the UK.

        We still measure our kids on feet, I still buy milk and beer in pints and buy petrol in gallons.

        There's no point in converting! Costly excercise for no gain. I still get my milk/beer/pterol and my tea/pissed/to work.

        1. stanimir

          6 feet

          6 feet length is around 1.83m, though (1.72 would be 5'8"). You just wish to pertain a system for your own convenience.

          If you have not used to imperial system, you'd just multiple feet by 30.5 and inches per 2.54 in your brain any time you hear 'em. (at least this is what I do). Gallons are tricky since they come in different sizes.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >No, mate, you're just fooling yourself. You're just comfortable with imperial measurements because you've always used them, not because they have some kind of mystical "rightness".

        No he's not. Most of the objects around us can be described in imperial units in just a couple of digits... take peoples height for example... 6'2". Two figures. Metric distance for objects around us usually result in more digits.

        The reason? Imperial units were based on body parts. Imperial is a unit on a human scale, and is very good for mental estimates. You can then measure (when greater accuracy is required) and calculate (without faffing with bases) in millimeters (ISO) or meters (SI).

        There is also the matter of prouct standardisation from the days when the UK and US were manufacturing powerhouses... take plumbing or bicycles, for example.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nah, you're the one that's wrong. Imperial units came from familiar things like the distance between your nose and your outstretched hand (yard) or the size of your feet (clue!), so they have some implicit meaning. Metric units are abstract - the length of some metal bar in France means nothing.

        1. Frumious Bandersnatch

          re: Metric units are abstract

          Well then, I'm sure a litre of water out there somewhere will be very surprised to find that it weighs exactly(*) a kilogram, and that it fits in a cube of 10x10x10 cm. What could be a better and more concrete basis for a shared measurement system than the physical properties of water?

          * Well, that was the intention behind the system, but what with measurement error and subsequent redefinitions, the SI measurements for volume, weight and length don't exactly meet this ideal.

          The one thing that the French obviously got wrong in their zeal for base-10 measurements was the idea of the ten-day week. Sure, it'd be marginally better to have 3/10ths of the week off instead of 2/7ths, but who wants to have to work 7 days in a row? I guess they didn't take into account that weeks (and calenders) are more of a social construct than a scientific one.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Yeah, Date/Time Units Are A Buttfuck

            365 days, Ok that is the time to revolve around the sun. Natural.

            But 12 Months. Why not 10 ? Make the first 9 40 days and the last one 5 days.

            7 days per week ?? Why not 10 days ?

            24 Hours ?? Why not 10 ?

            60 Minutes ?? Because it is not a multiple of 24 or WTF ?? Make it 10 or 100.

            60 Seconds ?? Yeah much more practical than 100 seconds, especially when you wan to sell pocket calculators.

            At least they didn't fuck with milliseconds...

            Can somebody name and shame these RETARDS ??

            According to wikipedia the romans, arabs and egyptians are to blame.

            At least the French tried to clean up this mess:


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Yeah, Date/Time Units Are A Buttfuck

              There originally was only ten months.





              Are clues to that.

              But then Julius and Augustus wanted months named after them and so now we have twelve.

              Centurions and the practice of decimation now spring to mind.

              What have the Romans ever done for us eh?

              1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

                Re: Yeah, Date/Time Units Are A Buttfuck

                @AC That is so very, very wrong. There were always 12 months. Augustus and Julius renamed months, they didn't create brand new ones.

                1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

                  Re: Yeah, Date/Time Units Are A Buttfuck

                  Well oka, strictly speaking, there were 10 months in the so-called Romunal calendar, but that had been replaced by a 12 month lunar calendar centuries before Julius Caesar came along. And he didn't "want" the month named after him. It was named after him as an honour bestowed by the Roman state, likewise Augustus.

                  In addition the pre-julian Roman calendar occasionally had 13 months to line things up when the months got too far out of line with the actual lunar phase, and there were days added to the beginning or end of months when they needed to. Not counting the occasional changing of the length of a year to make sure a ruler was put out of office early or kept on longer than he should have been...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Yeah, Date/Time Units Are A Buttfuck

              Start with the month. One lunar month is 28 days. You can easily discern Full moon, Half moon, New moon, half moon - so 4 divisions per month := 1 week := 7 days.

              Why 60 and 24? Because 12 := 2*2*3, 24 := 2*2*2*3, and 60 := 2*2*3*5, which means 12 can be divided by 2, 3, 4, and 6, 24 by 2,3,4,6,8 and 12, and 60 by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, etc - which for the ancient Babylonians made 60, 12, and 24 really useful numbers to base things around because they sucked at long division.

              So take a day: again, you can divide it up into 4 chunks pretty well (sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight), so dividing those chunks by 2*3 gives you a pretty useful set of time parts.

              The months - well, blame the Romans for that - it would be more sensible to have 13 months of 28 days with 1 day left over (2 every 4 years).

      4. LPF

        Your lying! and I bet you know how long your John Tomas is , and I bet you tell her it in inches!

    3. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Actually they do have a "mystical rightness", depending on how you define these things. The foot has maintained a consistent length for thousands of years, all the way back to the ancient Greece and Egypt and it seems that it can actually be derived with two sticks and the night sky to a surprising degree of accuracy.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Arrogant Tosser

    Claiming that there is a "metrically literate elite" and a "rudderless and bewildered majority" is a touch over the top.

    We're quite capable of handling two systems at once, as long as we stick to using only one for any specific purpose (eg imperial for beer and metric for petrol).

    Anyway, the country is supposed to be largely inumerate, so does it matter how many systems the population can't count in?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Arrogant Tosser

      I wonder who built his house, or installed his toilet. The elite?

  15. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Sorry, but pints of milk quite clearly state their "ml" value and have for years. All foods have their metric values on them.

    There's a difference between showing metric units and FORCING ONLY metric units. The former is good sense. The later is just going to create hatred and alienate people and confuse who WERE brought up with the old system.

    Nobody will reasonably object to you (as has already been done) putting "568ml" on your pint of milk. Or selling it in 500ml lots. Or selling potatoes by the kilo. Or any of the other measures. So long as you don't FORCE that to be the only way to mark it. What harm does an EXTRA marking of the imperial measurement do in a time of middle-ground between two measures? All children's exams nowadays - metric. All food measures - metric. All dimensions in the Argos catalogue - metric (and sometimes imperial as an indicator too). All rulers and measuring tapes have had metric on them for DECADES now.

    About the only thing that hasn't changed over in any way is the roads. Every car advert has km/l (or more likely litres/100km) now as well as mpg, but you can't go through the roads and change the signs to km/h overnight. The best you can do is has a transition where you mark BOTH speeds with the appropriate units on all roadsigns.

    And then? To be honest, nothing much else happens. Once the roadsigns are dual-format, anyone can understand them in any age of car (which are also all dual-format on their speedos) so there's no need to go any further. Will it stop people speeding, or stop them comparing fuel efficiency? No.

    So you have to ask, what advantage do you get exactly from the changing last bastions of imperial measurement as opposed to merely adding the metric equivalent clearly next to them? And the answer is: NOTHING. Just a waste of public money from that point to make everything "metric-only" at further expense.

    Nobody cares about metric or imperial. What we care about is not having to deal ONLY in metric if we don't need to. There's no reason for me to HAVE to buy milk that's only printed in millilitres when they could put both units on it. And I don't even care - if I ever do measurements or conversions, I do it by using metric equivalents because they are slightly easier to work with - I was brought up a metric child by my schooling, even though my parents are strictly imperial. But what I do care about is little old grannies trying to do 220mph on the motorway because they misread the sign, or alternatively 70km/h because they misread their dial.

    Nobody sensible objects to metric units, metric signage, metric measurement or teaching metric (as has been standard since, what, the 70's?). What we object to is removing a perfectly useful piece of information for no reason at all instead of just complementing it (and, hell, put the imperial in small writing next to a big bold metric measure if you want, who cares?).

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: metricating the auto world

      You'd also have to change the speedo's on all those cars where the km/h is quite hard to read as it's in tiny orange font which doesn't show up so well.

      While we're at it, we may as well start driving on the right, too.... :)

      1. cocknee

        Re: metricating the auto world

        Bollox to driving on the right - just because some french general decided to be awkward and march on the right, doesn't mean we should. Being on the left was good enough for the Romans, it is good enough for me, along with aqueducts, medicine, roads..... blah blah.

        Japan, Oz, NZ, SA, India, Pakistan, and umpteen other countries still and will continue to drive on the left.

        Don't even bother mentioning Sweden's conversion, they drove LHD cars, so it was easy for them - bit of a stupid idea to drive on the left with LHD cars!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: metricating the auto world

        I drive a Japanese import car, the first thing that happened to it when it was imported was that the importer took the speedo's printed dial out and replaced it with one in graduated in miles. It took a few weeks to get used to the tumblers counting in KM, but it's a total non-issue. It probably cost about a fiver in parts and a tenner in labour.

        Modern cars with digital dials can have this done in software, sometimes there is even a setting on a user accessible menu or a switch.

      3. welshie

        Re: metricating the auto world

        The UK is the only country that drives on the left, for which the motor manufacturers have to fit speedometers that read in mph. They'd love not to have to have different models for UK than they do for Ireland/Malta/Cyprus/Kenya/South Africa/Australia/New Zealand... and so on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: metricating the auto world

          Well, there's also that bunch of islands near Korea. As well as driving on the left they're also known for making some cars and car parts.

          1. A J Stiles

            Re: metricating the auto world

            And measuring distances in kilometres.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: metricating the auto world

          I suspect that changing speedos is a bit easier than moving all the pieces to drive on the left.

          I'm in Merka. Both of our cars have digital speedos and buttons to switch between mph and km/h.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "you can't go through the roads and change the signs to km/h overnight"

      That may be true, but they did manage to do the whole of Canada over the weekend when I was living out there in the late 1970s.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re:Leee Dowling

      I have seen French speed limit signs of 80 over 50 would that be dual values?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re:Leee Dowling

        @MJI: No, it's 80KMph in the dry and 50 in the wet.

  16. Andrew Duffin

    From the Dead Sheep Dept

    Howe is a silly old ass.

    Just because he finds real money confusing...

    And if I were him I'd keep pretty quiet about having been a member of the traitor Heath's government.

    He can hobble back down his hole, frankly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From the Dead Sheep Dept

      "Just because he finds real money confusing..."

      Believe me, Tories have NEVER found money confusing!

      As longs as they have as much of it as possible, leave your brethern to starve!

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: From the Dead Sheep Dept

        And the difference with Labour is...?

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: From the Dead Sheep Dept

          It seems to me that the Tories like the economy in good order so they can skim off the top.

          Labour are just incompetent and give out money to all and sundry for the most ridiculous purposes.

          Not defending the Tories here btw, but compared to Labour they have more respect for money.

  17. ScarabMonkey

    What an absolute waste of money and effort that would be.

    I can't quite imagine going down the local and asking for "five hundred and sixty eight millilitres of your finest ale please"...

    It doesn't quite have the same ring to it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Worst argument ever...

      I don't ask for Pints of beer in my local, and if you take some time, you'll notice that the overwhelming majority of people don't ask for pints of beer, they as for "a beer" or "a number of beers".

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Worst argument ever...

        Yeah like the argument about buying fruit by weight. Does anyone still buy it by weight? I buy it by quantity (eg;five apples for lunches during the week) or else I just pick up a bag of apples. Same with everything in a supermarket I think. You buy by quantity or you pick up a pack of something.

        Buying by weight is probably more common at markets but how popular are they really?

        1. FartingHippo

          Re: Worst argument ever...

          "I'd like 47 grapes and 51 cherries please, Mr Greengrocer."

          "Get out."

          1. AndrueC Silver badge

            Re: Worst argument ever...

            I usually just grab a couple of appropriate sized bunches. If I'm buying at the supermarket I buy a bag. Still no need to mention weight.

      2. snowlight

        Re: Worst argument ever...

        My experience is the complete opposite of yours, everyone round here asks for a pint of ale/lager or 4 pints of ale etc.


  18. Number6

    Mix and Match

    The point about Imperial measurements is that they evolved as CONVENIENT measures. It was convenient to have an acre as the area a man could plough in a day, it was (and still is) a furrow long and a chain wide (there - how many people actually knew that?)

    As others have pointed out, we still buy in convenient sizes, even if they're labelled with weird metric numbers.

    If I'm doing science or engineering where a consistent set of units is good then I'll use metric,. Otherwise I'll pick whichever system is convenient at the time.

    1. JulianB

      Re: Mix and Match

      That's a *furlong* long and a chain wide, I think.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: Mix and Match

        Seeing as you are being a pendant <- see what I did there?

        Actually no. That's like saying PIN number. Furlong is the contraction of furrow long

  19. Schultz

    Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

    but no Britain. So what would Wellington say if you surrendered now?

    OTOH, if you want your kids to value logic and maths, you might start by giving them a proper system of units.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

      He didn't vanquish every imperial measurement. I've heard that French carpenters order 'le two-by-four'.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

        I used to drink in "Le Grande Pint du Nord" in the 1990s - just outside the Gare du Nord ...

      2. Mike Banahan

        Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

        I'd also point out (no doubt to be corrected) that bicycle tyres the last time I was in Germany were measured as things like 21 Zoll. To the best of my knowledge 1 Zoll is equal to 2.54cm which is pretty close to an inch.

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

      actually metrication was never a political football, as it is today. As I said earlier, it was first mooted in 1818, in the UK, and almost happened in 1868 - the bill was passed in parliament, but ran out of time to get ratified, and precisely *because* it was uncontentious, it never got the head of steam to get tried again. Presumably, most people couldn't see the point, when most of the UKs trade was with the rest of the empire.

      Fast forward 100+ years, and it HAS become a political football, thanks to the unstinting efforts of the ever-backwards Daily Heil.

      What woud Wellington think (now there's a Daily Mail tagline I can see evolving. Not "What would Jesus Do ?", "What Would Wellington Do ?" !) ? Personally I think he'd harrumph as say as long as it worked, he couldn't care less what pinko scientists talked in.

      1. Chad H.

        Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

        Err, no it didnt. Metric Time and the Metric Calendar didnt conquer anywhere.

    3. Tel Starr

      Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

      'OTOH, if you want your kids to value logic and maths, you might start by giving them a proper system of units.'

      Exactly, we need to switch to a base2 system ASAP, none of this count on fingers malarky.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

        Don't give up on fingers! I can count to 32 on one hand.

        1. Crisp

          Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

          There's something wrong with my hand. I can only count up to 31 on it.

          1. Kevin Johnston

            Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

            Ha...that's Nothing....Mine goes from -16 up to 15 so there.....

      2. D@v3

        Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

        counting on your fingers in base 2 is great, can count up to 1111111111, much higher than the 10 your limited to in base 10.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Napoleon and his metric system conquered Europe,

        "you might start by giving them a proper system of units.'

        OK, so why use arbitrary units like grams and meters? There's nothing any more fundamental about them vs. pounds and feet - the only thing the metric system has going for it is that almost all the multipliers are factors of 10: deci-, kilo- etc.

        Why not spec things like the amount of beer, or gas, or meat in terms of a REALLY fundamental unit - the Planck mass? One million Planck masses is .76 oz or 21 grams. 550 ml of liquid should be roughly 25 megaplancks.

  20. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Also, does it matter ...

    as long as you don't start enforcing what *multiples* of units people use. By all means, measure a pint as 568ml ... just don't start saying it has to be 500ml or 1l.

    I think a lot of the opposition to metric came from people thinking they'd be locked up for asking for a pound of sugar - which was ALWAYS Daily-Mail FUD. By all means, ask for a pound of sugar. Just don't be upset that you get given 454g.

    Personally, I think there is a beautiful elegance about metric. 1000ml of water = 1000g = 1Kg ... 1000Kg = 1 tonne, and so on. What's the imperial way ... 16oz=1pint oh, no, hang on, where are we ? Oh, yes, the UK, sorry. 20fl oz= 1 pint. 8 pints = 1 gallon... um hang on, is 20fl. oz a pound ? How many pounds in a stone (sorry US readers 1 stone = 14 pounds). Now let me see, a hundredweight - that's 100 pounds isn't it ? It's not, it's 112 pounds but it says "hundred" ....

    &c &c &c .....

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Also, does it matter ...

      Though there was certainly a lot of misinformation, there was also a lot of legal calls to make sellers sell things only in metric.

      The "Metric Martyrs", I believe they were called, of whom the owner of Trago Mills stores in Cornwall was quite vocal (my favourite shop, especially the Falmouth one!), used to put up posters to raise awareness of the issue years ago, and went to court for refusing to sell things in only one measure. I don't know the outcome but given that I can still buy spuds by the pound, they probably won or at least won morally.

      There's nothing wrong with selling me 500ml of water, or a kilogram of potatoes. But there's also nothing wrong with selling 568ml of milk and advertising it as a pint, or 2lbs of potatoes and stating the measure in metric too, is there?

    2. Stephen Rodda

      Re: Also, does it matter ...

      ... "A pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter."

      1. Crisp

        Re: Also, does it matter ...

        And a litre of water weighs a kilogram. Much easier to convert in your head.

        1. beerandbiscuits

          Re: Also, does it matter ...

          Ahh yes. That''ll be the kilogram that isn't a measure of weight.

          But of course metric makes such perfect sense doesn't it.

        2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

          Re: Also, does it matter ...

          Water is approximately 10lb per gal. Nice and easy to remember, and useful size measurements.

    3. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: Also, does it matter ...

      "16oz=1pint oh, no, hang on, where are we ? Oh, yes, the UK, sorry. 20fl oz= 1 pint."

      Of course, since you implicitly mentioned the UK versus the US fluid ounces, it's worth remembering that the "pints" they're based on are different anyway! A US pint is only 473 ml versus 568 ml... that's a major difference and point of confusion.

      (Ironically, this results in both fluid ounces actually being closer in size, since the US one is a larger proportion of a smaller pint!)

      If non-metric units are intuitively "right" as some suggest, then how can this apply to both (differently-sized) pints? Surely one of them must "feel" wrong- but both the Americans and the British seem to be quite happy with their pints, suggesting that it's as much down to familiarity as anything. Both are either side of a half-litre anyway...

      Also, the US pint is apparently based on an *older* version of the English pint, whereas the larger Imperial pint was based on a later (early 19th-century) standardisation, so the US pint should be the more historically-grounded, closer-to-its-roots "correct" one.

      1. Kevin Johnston

        Re: Also, does it matter ...

        The US pint came from a measure of wine in the time of Queen Anne

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also, does it matter ...

      thank you thank you thank you.

      Ever since I first read Douglas Adams, I've wondered how much a stone was...and you've finally answered.

      (and yes, that's a pint)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I agree 100% with him

    The Imperial measure system is antiquated and irevellent. I don't want to fill my head with useless conversion numbers, Metric frees me up from doing so.

    Hurry it up I say, the current halfway house makes us a laughing stock.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I agree 100% with him

      "Metric frees me up from doing so."

      you mean from having to bother.......or can't??

      "current halfway house makes us a laughing stock"

      This whole none issue makes us a laughing stock.

  22. Richard Cartledge

    The country and the folk of this land have more pressing issues than ml vs. pints.

    Sack this out of touch idiot. Oh we can't, he's a 'Lord'.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      > Sack this out of touch idiot. Oh we can't, he's a 'Lord'

      They're working on it :)

      1. P. Lee

        > Sack this out of touch idiot. Oh we can't, he's a 'Lord'

        Yes, that's just what we want, another Commons. /sarc

        You don't sack someone because you disagree with them. I vehemently disagree with Howe, but I'd rather he speaks his mind than have an elected "lords."

        Its the Lords who stuck a broom-handle through the spokes of some of the worst ideas TB had and have been a far better counterbalance to abuse of power by the legislative than the commons is. They can be (and are) quite big on protecting the little guy precisely because they are not beholden to a national party system which provides funds for their election or can run a campaign against them.

        Certainly, some of them are quite mad, but not "start a war" mad so common in the commons.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @ the Imperial fans

    If you love the middle ages so much why don't you go live there?

    1. Dotter

      Re: @ the Imperial fans

      Do you have a time machine on offer to allow these people to follow this command?

  24. Anonymous Coward

    metrication has already happened

    Most "pints" I get are nearer .5 of a litre than a pint :-(

    1. Crisp

      Re: metrication has already happened

      If your pint has too much head on it, you have the right to have it topped up.

      The more you know...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: metrication has already happened

        ... and be the one miserable tosser that's always complaining... been there...

  25. dotdavid
    Thumb Down

    Old hat

    Metric is old hat now, we should leapfrog past it to a system of measurement involving Double Decker Buses and The Size Of Wales.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't see what's wrong with pecks, bushels and chains.

  27. h 2

    Wheels & Tyres

    There are not many metric ones in the world yet !

    1. Richard Mason

      Re: Wheels & Tyres

      Actually tyres in Europe are a realy strange one, you order a 205/55R16 or a 165/45R14 and the first number of the designator is the tyre width in millimetres, the second number is a percentage (the profile height as a percentage of the width), but the final figure is the rim size in inches. Despite the last number being in inches, this is known as the ISO Metric System for tyre designators.

      I work in inches and 'thou' every day selling classic British car parts. Nuts and bolts are all in fractional UNF, UNC, BSF sizes, none of this M6, M8, M10 rubbish. About the only things we do in metric are bulk lengths of hoses, cables, seals, etc which we sell by the metre.

  28. Andy Livingstone

    Secondary Importance only

    Much more important that we should switch to driving on the right like the rest of Europe. As some work would need to be done in regard to road signs perhaps it could be done at the same time. For now, I quite like paying in guineas. Still preferable to Thatchers..

  29. MJI Silver badge

    Speed limits

    I have been caught out on this first time I went to Ireland.

    Off the ferry saw the 100 speed limit, bit fed up because I couldn't get over 90mph due to traffic, said to the customer their limits are high - they said they are in km/h.

    As to litres per 100km bog off, km per l will do if we change, and I prefer Renaults idea of 3l to Audis.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "..."metrically literate elite" and a "rudderless and bewildered majority.."

    For which LORD HOWE is partly responsible for!

    Why change it? We all know 4 pints of milk, £1.35 per gallon, etc....

    Why doesn't the metric system go for a jump instead?


    (Lords my ASS! They are even lower than a Pikey's illegitimate kids pet snakes knackers)

    The Tory’s need to move back to the middle ages and take their absolutely wank policies and ideas with them.

  31. Chad H.

    Imperial to Metric and back again

    When I first came to the UK from Australia (which joined the modern world in weights and measures decades ago) I was shocked by the usage of Miles for distance, although I had a vauge idea 60 Miles is roughly 100 K's.... I found myself at one point converting miles in kilometers, and dividing by 100 to work out rough long distance journey times, forgetting that the sole advantage miles can claim to have is that at 60 miles per hour, you can basically read the distance left as time.

    Of course, it doesnt help that a mile isn't a mile depending on if you're in a car, boat or plane

    1. Mike Banahan

      Re: Imperial to Metric and back again

      Boats and planes generally don't use miles for navigation. They use Nautical Miles (approx 1.1 statute miles) for a good reason.

      Nautical miles are based on the size of the earth and the not-unreasonable approximation that the earth is a sphere. If you accept the idea of 360 degrees in a circle and 60 minutes in a degree, you discover that minute of latitude corresponds to one nautical mile. This is not an accident.

      It's entirely reasonable to argue that the nautical mile is a much more 'natural' measure than any invented measurement such as the imperial mile or the metre (which was itself originally (allegedly) some arbitrary division of the distance between Paris and the equator, or similar nonsense).

      If only we had been born with 12 fingers, we'd be spared the decimal fascists who can't comprehend that there are, actually, better number bases to work from. Now, how many pennies would that actually give to the shilling? Oh yes, I remember ...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aircraft fly overhead measuring speed in knots and fuel in kg and seem to have no problems.

    The average citizen is happy to order a new TV in inches and their burgers in fractions of pounds, being told by the doctor how fat they are kg while their waist measurement expands in inches.

    The UK is a traditional country and likes to keep some of the least dangerous ones.

  33. Johnny G

    And another measurement for decimalisation

    He should add music to his list... there should be 10 notes in a octave and 10 strings on a guitar

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: And another measurement for decimalisation

      careful ... we might end up with another metric day (yes, the French tried it ISTR ... 100 minutes in an hour, 10 in a day, 10 days a week, or somesuch nonsense ....)

  34. Z-Eden

    And here we go. Something of vital importance to a nations function (weights and measures) being politicised. Metrification should have been just a simple switch from one set of measurements to another. The change in coinage happened without such a palava. Somewhere along the way, some bright spark decided to politicised it for one reason or another and here we are. Just get us converted to a full metric system and be done with it. Its part of the curriculum we teach our children. The SI uses metrics as a standard measure. We won't suddenly "loose our identity" because we stop using one set of measures for another.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      The change in coinage happened without such a palava

      I suspect you were born in the 80s ?

  35. measmyself

    I agree that there should be one type, universally used, I can see howerver how roads and things would be very expensive to change.

    But food and weight and volumes should all be easily converted to metric, to me its a more logical unit of measurement, I weight myself in KG and height in CM as again to me its is more logical.

    As *most* food packaging is now in KG/g then it makes no sense for me to start adopting pounds and stones and it annoys me when volumes are in imperial or loose food like markets label in lbs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What is your problem with people using lbs?

      If you don't like it, dont buy from them!

      And if you can't convert on the fly, maybe you should take some night classes in maths?

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Wrong UoMs

      It is NOT KG it is kg

      It is NOT CM it is cm

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wrong UoMs

        ..and a 200mb/s connection speed is nothing to be pleased about :)

  36. dkjd

    Lager is already served metric in Britain

    As far as I can determine when you order a pint, you get served 500ml of beer, and the rest consists of air, because you are supposed to like a head on your "pint".

  37. terlan
    Thumb Up

    abandon the imperial and metric...

    For liquids, time to do away with both the imperial and the silly metric system altogether and convert to the beer system.

    The standard unit can be a beer (based on the current a pint measurement.)

    You can order a Beer. or if for some reason you feel the need, a half a beer.

    Smaller measurements can be measured in shorts, or chasers.

    and for highly detailed measuremenets (liquid medicine for example) the sip would of course be the standard measurement.

    The irish can of course adopt the guiness as their standard measurement and 1 guiness would convert very easily into 1 beer. Thus making international exchanges of measuremnent data so much easier to understand.

    Measuring weights of solids doesnt need changing as I'm not sure what all this talk of imperial and metric are about, as it is common knowledge that all weight of solids is based upon the universal constant of the bag of sugar, and has been since at least the early 50s.

    1. 4ecks

      Re: abandon the imperial and metric...

      Would that be the Northern or Southern Pint glass - real ale with a head or lager?

      A properly poured and rested Guiness topped off just before serving would probably be the most accurate measure.:)

      I was taught metric at school, and educated in Imperial by my parents.

      I use both systems daily with no problem, although it is mostly the metric-inch of 25mm and metric-foot of 300mm. E.g. box of Cat.5 , 1000ft or 305mtr.

      Like many people I think in Centigrade/Celcius for cold weather and Fahrenheit for hot weather, afterall I know that 0'C is freezing cold, and 98.4'F is average body temperature.

    2. Francis Boyle

      Re: abandon the imperial and metric...

      For extra points I suggest using the Australian beer system(s). Makes el Reg units look positively sane.

  38. dodge

    Oh for crying out loud you can use both

    It's really easy. In South Africa, and many other civilised places, you have a standard size you're pretty much used to. You call it "a beer" or "a pint" or "a tin of tuna" or "a loaf of bread. The exact volume, weight etc is itemised on the package. A beer is 330ml, a tin of tune is 200g (or whatever) a loaf of bread is 700g. I don't buy my 700g of bread, I buy a loaf of bread.

    You can order "a pint" which is 0.57l. I regularly order my .57l 'pint of draught beer' at my local.

    Exactly why is it a problem that your pint is 057l, and not 1 pint? What's the f*************ing difference?

    1. ArmanX

      Re: Oh for crying out loud you can use both

      I'm trying to figure out what you've got *'d out, there... the longest word that starts with an f and ends with "ing" is "foreshortening", but that's only 10 letters, rather than 13. Granted, it could be "fooooreshortening", or but that doesn't make a lot of sense...

      1. Anomynous Coward

        The galling asterisks

        fuckadoodledooing ?

  39. HP Cynic

    While I find some metric measurements harder to conceptualise (e.g. distances and pints) and have a nostalgic attachment to some (pints again) the fact is he's totally right.

    I remember my Grandma constantly complaining about metric money as opposed to the nonsense that came before but if you asked people to convert FROM metric money now you would struggle to find anyone on your side.

    They just need to get on with it.

  40. MontyMole

    Get rid of Miles per Gallon. We need Miles per Litre.

    1. terlan

      These days Miles per Pound would be a far more useful measurement in a car.

      1. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: Miles per pound.

        I've done this consistently for years. It's about 12p per mile depending on how & what you drive.

        WHAT! I hear you cry, hasn't this gone up with soaring fuel costs? Not if you buy increasingly leaner cars & begin driving like a saint.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon


      "Get rid of Miles per Gallon. We need Miles per Litre."

      Surely you meant kilometers per litre?

      1. ArmanX

        Re: Sir

        Acres per foot-second? Centipoise-meters-squared per ounce?

  41. Stephen Rodda

    Dutch treats

    I lived in the Netherlands for ten years until quite recently. The Dutch have been metric nearly forever. There, apart from the standard metric measurements, there are duimen (thumbs or inches) and voeten (feet). You can buy cheese and so forth by the ons (ounce) and the pond (I don't have to translate that one, do I?), and beer by the pint. Yup, the pint (pronounced with a short i as in pin). I won't even mention the dozijn.

    France also has la livre (pound--feminine, as opposed to the masculine, which means book).

    Measurements? Schmeasurements.

    1. Len

      Re: Dutch treats

      Yep, the Dutch kept their old names, just metricated the amount. So, a 'pond' is 500g, an 'ons' is 100g.

    2. schermer

      Re: Dutch treats

      Not completely right. "Duim" and "voet" are not used anymore (they have just historical value just like the "el"). "Ons" means 100 gram nowadays, and "pond" 500 gram. The terms are used unofficially as conversation short-cut. The "pint" is not a volume measurement: it is a popular way to ask for a beer. The use of "dozijn" (=12 pieces) and "gros" (144 pieces) is also unofficial, just used in conversation.

      Being dutch all my life (60+ years) I think I have some right to make these comments.

  42. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Preaching to the choir here but I think he's on a hiding to nothing.

    Personally I think metric is only the sensible way to go due to its relative simplicity and the fact that it's an international standard. But people are clearly reluctant to change. I have hopes though. The younger generation do seem to be a lot happier with metric and seem to barely know the old units. Also a lot of documentaries and the like on TV are switching to metric. I think given another generation or two metric will have finally won the battle.

  43. Crisp

    OK. Time to stop this nonsense and use a real unit like the Bloit

    The bloit is defined as the distance the king's favorite pet runs in an hour.

  44. Russ Pitcher
    Thumb Up

    Full steam ahead

    Born in 1971 I'm theoretically a metric lad, but I think in feet, pints and miles most of the time and mm and kilos at other times. A forced move to metric would probably drive me nuts, BUT...

    Having the world measured with two systems, one of which is really the bastard child of dozens of unrelated 'systems' is madness, and selling 568ml of milk, or a sheet of MDF at 1220x2440 is lunacy. 1220mm x 2440mm is roughly 4' x 8', but not exactly, therefore it makes little sense from a metric point of view and doesn't really fit imperial systems well.

    Yes, a forced change would be a real pain for those of us over 20, and some might never fully adapt, but just think how much better things will be for future generations. Sometimes you just have to accept that something is broken and it will be worth the pain to replace it in the long run.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Metric is OK for Johnny Foreigner...

    ...but we can't have it in England. I mean, where would The Queens head go?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Metric is OK for Johnny Foreigner...

      On a pike?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Metric is OK for Johnny Foreigner...

        Nah, that's where you'd stick her anus horribilis

        I lament having to clarify this but I do know the correct reference is annus but no doubt some dickwad would feel compelled to point it out, well you don't have to now.

  46. VespaBoy

    What's the problem; not hard to live with both surely? My main concern would be if beer is to be served in 500ml glasses, will the price go down accordingly? Nah, thought not.

    It really is not a big deal to have both imperial and metric in use. In fact I would suggest there is a greater case to be made for aligning the UK and US imperial systems, but that doesn't need tampering with either!

    For Christ's sake, I ride a vintage Vespa that only has a speedo in Km/h and odometer in Km, yet I travel on roads measured in mile. Big deal. Use what feels right for you and what you understand best.

  47. x3mxs

    and talking about cars...

    It's not just the MPGs versus litres per 100 km, but also the power in BHP should translate into KW...

    but no manufactures quotes it as is comes out at a lower value :)

    1 HP = 0.7457 KW

    1. Mike Banahan

      Re: and talking about cars...

      But cars nowadays don't quote horsepower, they quote that crucially important figure of PS ('Pferd Stark').

      Oh, hang on, when I translate that from German it comes out as Horse Power. Damn!

  48. This post has been deleted by its author

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Imperial is superior to metric for almost all daily usages. Metric is superior for scientific stuff where everyone is using calculators and don't care that it generates awkward fractions every time you look at it.

    1. dodge

      Re: Idiot

      Yeah, a 7/8" inch bolt (if you were to be American using imperial) you totally know what half that width is when finding a radius clearance then multiply out for the five bolts you're drilling in a row.

      SO much easier than taking a 17mm bolt, divide by 2 (13.5) multiply by 5 (67.5mm).

      That I could do almost instantly in my head. In imperial that would be... um 7/8ths in half is 7/16ths, times five is 35/16ths, which is er 2 and 3/16ths.

      You're right. That's so intuitive and easy to do. Made my head explode it was so much easier and more intuitive. How could anyone not see that?

      So far there's been NOT ONE SINGLE GOOD REASON to measure beer in pints. Measure it in ml, sell it in a glass marked to 570ml, which is a pint.

      What is the problem? Jeeezuz. Daily Mail reading Brits.

      1. Nev

        Re: Idiot

        "What is the problem? Jeeezuz. Daily Mail reading Brits."


        This kind of non-story is there to sell newspapers, froth-up the natives and divert attention from real issues/problems.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. ArmanX

        Re: Idiot

        So, on the one hand, you have 7/8, half of which is 7/16. That was pretty easy. And on the other hand, you have 17mm, half of which is 8.5 (that's close to 13.5, I guess?).

        Right, so, multiply this by five - 35/16, right, easy. 8.5 * 5 is... hang on, carry the two... 42.5mm. I guess that's kind of close to 67.5 mm, right?

        Which side were you arguing for, by the way?

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Idiot

        "You're right. That's so intuitive and easy to do. "

        Yes, it was. If you find that difficult you shouldn't be allowed to use sharp tools in the first place.

        I hate to tell you this but imperial measures were used easily and quickly by uneducated masses for about a thousand years BECAUSE they are so easy to use. Perhaps the problem is that today's education system isn't capable of producing people with a grasp of simple arithmetic equal to a mediaeval peasants?

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Idiot

      Much as I'm a metric bloke (although I'm 45 I was taught metric at primary school - thanks Blackfirs, Congleton) I have to agree with this. The 'human scale' imperial units are more useful. Saying something is 'a couple of inches' is easier than '5 centimetres'. Same with a foot - it's just easier than saying 'about sixty centimetres'.

      A lot of everyday measurements are just talk and the smaller imperial units lend themselves to casual conversation and inaccuracy.

      I completed my conversion to metric when I switched from stones to kg several years ago. Just took the plunge and switched my scales over. But somehow feet and inches keep straying into conversations. Credit where it's due :)

  50. Anonymoose Cowherd

    "Uniquely confusing shambles"...

    ...but I LIKE a uniquely confusing shambles. And it seems to describe most of our institutions perfectly.

  51. Steve Evans

    "Lord Howe noted that he'd been responsible for the metrication programme, as minister for consumer affairs in the Edward Heath government"

    So it's your fault it's in a shambles! If you'd kept you mouth shut we'd all be using a single system. Imperial.

    I'm quite happy with the mix. I can talk measurements with the yanks, and the Europeans, and at my own choosing be complete incomprehensible to both!

    Maybe Lord Howe should go and have some fun with the motor industry... Has he checked out the specification of tyres recently (or ever in his life)...

    mm width, profile %age of width, rim size in inches.


  52. Tom 7

    Would you rather drive 27 miles

    or sit in 43.45 kilometers of queue caused by pissed OAP's who no longer know where anything is?

    Leave it well alone.

  53. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Although dividing by ten is nominally easier, imperial measurements have a sense of history and utility about them. An inch is related to the width of a thumb, a yard to do with the length of the arm to the tip of the nose, a pint, something to do with the size of a man's stomach. A furlong, or "furrow-long" was related to the distance a horse could plow, and eight of these made a mile.

    So you get your shiny, new metric system, but there are flaws. I have yards, you have metres. A third of my yard is a foot (about the size of my foot, as it happens). A third of your meter is 33.33333cm. Roughly. So, for simplicity, the builders and tradesmen have to invent the "metric foot" (30cm).

    Yes, they're somewhat anachronistic, but imperial measurements connect people to their roots, and it would be an act of cultural vanalism to criminalise them. Most people can use both systems quite adequately. My dad used to be an engineer and would commonly use millimetres and thousands of an inch in the same measurement.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      have a sense of history and utility about them

      so did slavery.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Absolutely spot on. I still am an engineer (for a few more years!) and also use whatever measuring standard best fits the particular task. Metric, Imperial, Ruler-widths, and will quite happily mix something like 6' 5mm. All the other engineers over 50 do the same. You should see the faces of the kids when asking a size get the reply 3metres & 10p

      Warning: Rant!

      What we've lost is the ability to think, to use whatever is available. People today are too inflexible. If things are not exactly as they expect they go into a hissy fit instead of trying to actually SOLVE problems.

  54. Andy Mc

    Feckin' ada, is anyone really confused by metric vs. imperial? Really? Can't help but think we've got bigger problems to be considering than what unit I buy milk in (which is, anyway, always litres thanks to the laws passed more years ago than I care to remember, just not an integer number of litres). FFS just deal with it, leave it alone and go off and sort out the national debt or something...

  55. Anonymous Coward

    None required

    We will all happily buy milk, beer or red wine in whichever standardised unit Tesco's chooses to stick it in, be that metric, Imperial, US or Sumerian Ducks.

    The advantage of switching to metric is that producers only need to only conform to one standard of measurement for the whole of the EU market. Consumers benefit because it should be easier to compare prices within that same single market.

    These days the only numbers that I ever get to work with are hexadecimal and that's only thanks to IP6.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: None required

      Not just the EU market. Every market in the world except the USA - and even the USA uses metric for a lot of things if only they knew it :)

  56. annodomini2

    More likely what happened...

    Howe: "Grumble-Grumble... I want a litre of beer!"

    Bar person (Servant in Howe's Eyes): "We only serve pints, sir."

    Howe: "Grumble...Grumble, I introduced the metric system to this country, I should be able to buy a litre."

    Bar person (Servant in Howe's Eyes): "We only serve pints, sir."

    Howe: "576ml of beer then."

    Howe, Back to the conversation: "And we were v-ery, ... v-ery drunk!"

  57. Atilla the Hun (No relation)

    Beer. Mmmm, beer!

    Beer drinkers beware - if you have to renew or replace your pewter tankard, they're making the buggers in 500ml sizes now as well as pints!

  58. Britt Johnston

    Strange units

    @Howe - while you're at it, we need a rewrite of Grimms (replace ell with 50cm) and Stevenson (pieces of ten).

    Maybe I shouldn't mention money, the Talers, Dubloons, Batzen, Kronen, Libra and of course Drachmas are well unified under the Euro, and that just made the real problem more transparent: that is too many politicians addressing the wrong problem too late.

    1. ArmanX

      Re: Strange units

      111 120 Kilometers Under the Sea just doesn't have the same ring to it...

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It was convenient to have an acre as the area a man could plough in a day"

    It may be only an example but how on earth is that relevant in todays world, how many men do you know who plough often enough to judge that. And is that measure based on ploughing with a tractor? a horse? manually?

    1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

      It's relevant because that is your heritage. It connects you to at least a part of the wisdom upon which the world that you now know is built. Should we reinvent the arce every time a better tractor is invented?

      1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

        acre, even

  60. Julian 4
    IT Angle

    I figured out the problem

    Instead of going for an Empirical system of units (which would be a very British thing to do and give us Metric) we've confused it with an Imperial system of units, in a 150 year phoneme mishap. Either that or we just can't stand the idea of adopting something we're centuries too late to re-market as our own ;-)

    -cheers from julz

  61. This post has been deleted by its author

  62. Ted Treen

    Let's go ALL the way...

    Let's change ALL our numbers to binary - only two digits to remember, none or those confusing 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 & 9 figures...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's go ALL the way...

      Funnily enough, a lot of the Imperial system is binary.

      2 of this =1 of that,

      2 of that = 1of those


      Apparently that was too complex for the French.

      1. graeme leggett Silver badge

        Re: Let's go ALL the way...

        And other powers of 2

        Eight furlongs to the mile.

        (and its near enough 5 furlongs to the km as makes no difference)

        Sixteen ounces to the pound

        Eight fluid drams to the fluid ounce

        Eight pints to the gallon

  63. ZankerH


    Let's stop driving on the wrong side of the road while we're at it.

  64. M7S

    Isn't Imperial really the original metric system?

    As brought over from the continent in the first place?

    In fact the Romans rather insisted, their legions marching distances measured in thousands of paces (mille) and deploying in units that started in base 10 (leading to decurian, centurian etc, and then later on 10 cohorts in a Legion, the reason the cohort was around 600 men was probably as that is the maximum number of individuals about which people generally can remember any detail, necessary for good leadership and the reason many units remain that sort of size today)

  65. A J Stiles

    Long Overdue

    About time too. Nobody else seems to have a problem with SI. I suggest as an interim measure we scribe a line at the 500ml. point on all our existing 568ml. glasses (which will give about a 13% oversize for those who like a head on their beer), and post up ready-reckoner charts so that pub customers can see they are not being cheated.

    Let’s try a real-world example to show why SI just works: fixing 6 shelves in an alcove 2.28 m. high, evenly spaced and with the bottom shelf 1 m. above floor level. I’ll be using a commonly-available tape measure marked in metres, centimetres and millimetres, and an ordinary 8-digit calculator from a pound store. Key presses are in bold, figures displayed on the calculator are in italics.

    2.28 [-] 1 [=] (get the height of the shelves plus the space above top shelf)


    [÷] 6 [=] (divide this by the number of shelves)

    0.2133333 (the spacing between each shelf and the next one)

    [+] [+] (make this a constant for addition. Now, each subsequent press of the [=] key will add 0.2133333 to whatever is on the calculator’s display).

    1 [=] (we marked the position of the bottom shelf at 1m. Now we want to start by adding 0.2133333 to 1, to get the position of the second shelf up.)

    1.2133333 (mentally round this to 1.213 — the same precision as the tape measure — and mark the position of the second shelf on the wall)


    1.4166667 (mentally round this to 1.417 and mark 3rd shelf. Note in passing that this calculator seems to be using more precision than it can display. This is not a bad thing.)


    1.64 (mark 4th shelf)


    1.8533333 (mark 5th shelf)


    2.0666667 (mark last shelf)

    [=] (one final time just to check; if all has gone to plan, we should get the height of the ceiling)

    2.28 (Yay! Already time for a brew and a smoke, while you’re still fart-arsing about trying to subtract 3 ft. 3 3/8 in. from 7 ft 5 3/4 in. Hey, what was that noise? It sounded a bit like a space probe crashing …..)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Long Overdue

      Why would anyone be foolish enough to agree to paying for 68ml of bubbles with their short measure pint ?

      And any workman will tell you you can argue for as much accuracy as you like but in the final analysis everything will be out of true including the alcove walls and you'll have to have the skill to make it workable at the time of creating the shelves.

    2. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Long Overdue

      Or in simpler terms, measure up a metre and put the rest at 8 inch intervals.

      That's allowing for the fact that the eye won't spot the difference. And for the artex drips off the plaster at the top that mean your alcove isn't quite 7ft 6in

  66. The Grump

    Can you imagine...

    the BOFH's boss popping off for a 2 LITER lunch ? That would be a bit much, even for me (but I will sacrifice my liver in the name of Science). Of course, Lord Geof would see to it that there would be no price increases due to the change in serving size... wouldn't he ?

    Beer because, well, it's BEER !

  67. Mr Young

    Do I like metrics?

    1 cubic meter of water is approximately 1000kg within a standard human temperature range I guess? Me 70's kid - 0.1" (2.54mm) 7400 ics with some proper not lead free solder will always be fun

  68. SirDigalot


    i do not mind pints gallons ( US or UK) feet and inches and pounds for big stuff, but i prefer to stick to metric mm when doing smaller stuff, i no longer use stones to say my weight, i use pounds living in the us i have never use KG despite being born and raised and taught decimal, i know rough translations for each conversion, as most people do, the cup thing is wierd tho, but when taken in the aspect of portion sizes (most of the time they recommend about a cup of this or that when service loose food like peas corn cereal etc, it is actually a nice size, just right, it is a shame most people never read that stuff and pile it on their plate, sorry trough. i think i would be happier with one system, but as it is it is no real problem dealing with both, i do not think they should change a pint, as has been said the volume will go down the price will remain the same, it happened before when we screwed up the money, it will happen when we screw up the measure, besides, we would then have to rip up all the road signs and replace them with metric equivilents, and it would be interesting to see if the people screaming for change in power have any interest whatsoever in the companies that produce said signs. i like swapping to km in the car while driving coz it looks like i am doing 120 down the freeway, which is something my car can nly dream of. and besides setting the cruise to 100km/h is much nicer them the 62 mph or so, hell i just want the freedom to choose whatever i bloody want! metric imperial, bra sizes, whatever!

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: personally

      Downvoted for lack of paragraphs, capitalisation and punctuation.

      Sorry. I'm in a bad mood.

  69. Steve Hosgood

    Lord Howe is right. It's a mess, and I'm surprised so many El Reg readers are in favour of carrying on with the mess.

    Notice that your "pint down the local" isn't a pint unless you drink what that pub has on draught. If you like Guinness but they don't have it on draught, you'll be served with a 500ml tin tipped into a pint glass.

    Same with Grolsch, and any other favourite of your that isn't on tap.

    It's been like that for years, and I assume no-one's noticed or cared. Certainly you'd still *call* it "going for a pint" even if (under this strange arrangement) you've been drinking half-litres all along.....

    1. Len

      Exactly, and beer from the supermarket and off-license is always metric. You don't think can and bottle manufacturers want to make special pint sizes for just one country, do you?

      Beer is sold in the UK in 33CL or 50CL/half litre bottles or a 50CL/half litre can and has been for god knows how long. Only exception is the pub which still sells some products in imperial.

      1. Sam Therapy

        Ermm, yes they do

        Several brands of beer are available in Pint cans and bottles. Wife beater, for one, can be bought in pint bottles.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ermm, yes they do

          Mackesons stout used to be in half pint bottles, don't think that's changed

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      More fool anyone who goes to the pub and buys tins of 'beer' !

  70. ManiK67

    It's about time

    The old imperial system is being eroded year on year (you can no longer buy screws in imperial sizes, no more No10 x 2"; they are now 5mm x 50mm.) Its about time to change to the metric system for the few remaining things that are still measured by the imperial system.

    Kilometres whizz by quicker on the European motorways, psychologically driving 500Km seems easier than 300Miles.

    I would however miss the good old British pint, maybe the 1/2, 2/3 or 3/4L would be a suitable replacement. 1L would just get too warm before finishing it in our gloriously warm metric British summers!!!

    Yes the time has come by a clear country mile, sorry clear country 1.609 kilometre to go completely metric.

  71. Madboater

    Try buying Pipe

    I'll have 6m of 4 inch pipe please! You will never get rid of imperial measures, our entire infrastructure is built on imperial measures, train gauges, pipe sizes etc... When measurements need to be accurate, and you look at fractions of a metric unit to measure what is/was an imperial one, you actually get into a fraction of a metric unit and errors start to send you out of tolerance before you f**k up. Where as an exact imperial unit is simple to measure an imperial size.

    To turn completely metric the answer is simple, don't change our measures, just change the metric system. A metric litre is a 2special name" for a cubic decimeter, it is not a SI unit, it is defined as 1kg of water when at 4 degs Centigrade. We just need to define our common imperial units in the same way.

    A beer pint is a measure of beer served in pint glasses.

    A milk pint is a measure of milk when stored in a pint milk bottle.

    A mile is a measure of distance to drive, and is defined as the distance you can travel in 1 minuet at a speed of 60mph.

    1. Len
      Thumb Down

      Re: Try buying Pipe

      Ehm... train gauges are defined in metric of course, they are used by engineers. Engineers switched to metric before the general public did. The official 'Standard Gauge' for trains, the one the UK uses together with most of the world, is defined as 1,435 mm.

      1. Neil Greatorex

        Re: Try buying Pipe

        Standard gauge is actually 4' 8½"

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Steve Hosgood

          Standard gauge (was Re: Try buying Pipe)

          Standard gauge is actually 4' 8½" ? (4 minutes, 8½ seconds of arc??)

          Only in the U.S.A.

          Everywhere else in the world it's 1435mm (though 4ft 8½in is well within the tolerance allowed).

    2. Keith 17

      Re: Try buying Pipe

      Ah, you call it 4 inch pipe, but it's not. It's 110mm pipe now. Much like inch and a half waste is now 44mm waste.

      The unit's completely unimportant though, because you and me both would ask for "a full length of sewer pipe mate"

  72. cyberdemon Silver badge

    I'm an engineer

    But I like to stick to pints for my beverages, and miles for my long distances.

    But at the same time I think those bloody yanks ought to use metric for their engineering units.

    Sadly though, it seems to be the other way round. Electronic engineers over here end up having to work in mils (thousandths of an inch, not mm) because it's the standard.

    You need standards if you need precision. In engineering, it's vital that the world standardises, and I wish they'd use metric.

    But for colloquial use, the status quo should remain. Messy or not.

    The whole point of colloquial units is that everyone understands what they mean, i.e. the great unwashed. It's the same reason why large areas are often expressed in terms of hundreds of "football pitches" rather than square kilometres.

    So get your grubby french hands off my Quart.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You give them 25.4mm

    And they take 1.6km!

  74. Jeff 11
    Thumb Down

    And we thought gay marriage and Lords reform were a waste of legislative time in the current economic and political climate.

  75. ratfox

    This is nothing!

    UK should drive on the right, like the rest of the world!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is nothing!

      I understand some mad peer is about to encourage us to bring it in gradually, starting with vans and lorries first and see how that goes.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: This is nothing!

      We defeated Napolian so drive on the left as we should do.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's not confusing, it's called life. Nobody is struggling; in the same way nobody is confused with 'ph' sounding like 'f'.

  77. ideapete

    Yus I remeber

    2 Liters to the Pint thats about right

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All the "right side of the road" trolls

    To all the "we should work on driving on the right side before metric-fication"

    Never happen. You start driving on the right side of the road, and speaking English, and people might mistake you for eeeeeeevvvvvviiiiiiiilllllll 'Muricans.

    So Brits will never accept it.

    ('scuse me. I have to run by Wal-Mart, get some Hoppes #9, and clean my guns.)

  79. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton


    Dear El Reg

    The previous posts and posters have said it all.

    What is wrong with little britain?

  80. The answer is 42

    Confusion reigns

    You youngsters got it easy- O level geography maps had to learnt twice, in case we got a map in inches per mile or centimetres per kilometre. When I got to college for HNC, we had to learn valves/transistors and thyratrons/thyristors because we were in another changeover.

    At least electricity goes at a sensible speed; 1 nanosecond per foot, which was fine for a starting point for signal delays across pcbs.

    Don't forget the bloody Euro lot do fuel consumption upside down as well as metric, its litres per 100km over there.

    Coat, fold-out walking stick, stomps off stage left.

  81. Spanners Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Something has gone to sensible units already

    Do a blind test at work. Ask people what are the boiling and freezing points of water

    When I was little, temperatures were given in Farenheit. There was a time when the weather forecast mentioned both. Nowadays, even my elderly relatives dropped that nonsense long ago.

    It can happen.

  82. Piro Silver badge

    Fine. Agreed.

    Imperial is a mess, discard at will..

    Other than our pints of beer. Remove the "pint" designation from the glass if you must, but serve us 568ml every time.

  83. Sam Therapy

    I hope they don't change guitar string sizes to metric

    A .009 - .042 set is easy enough to remember but I'm fucked if I can remember what the metric equivalents are, even though some brands have 'em printed on there.

  84. Reliquary

    200mm vs 8 inches...... I rest my case

  85. lowwall

    If you want human-based measures, you ought to move back to Fahrenheit. 0 = very, very cold. 100 = very, very hot. It's perfect.

  86. Graeme Sutherland

    We are officially metric

    As far as I understand it, Britain is officially metric, other than using miles and yards on road signs.

    Given that the metrification process started in the mid sixties, wouldn't it make a lot of sense to complete it? It's been nearly fifty years after all.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: My sat nav

      I want metres and miles - nope all metric or all imperial.

      I just know a yard is just under a metre so I leave it imperial

  87. P. Lee

    We should be progressing further!

    I think its shocking that we have 60 second minutes, 60 minute hours, 24 hours in a day, 7 day weeks, 12 months in the year and 365 days (sometimes) in a year, not to mention a ridiculous 360 degrees in a circle.

    And fractions! What's that about? What's that you say? Decimal is only an approximation? France tried a 10-day week and failed miserably? An inch is actually a measurement which is quite useful both on its own and in groups? Its actually easier to say "six-foot-one" than "183 centimeters" and indeed, just over 6 feet is easier to visualise than to 183 of anything?

    What is so superior about base 10? It doesn't even work for counting fingers & thumbs without going to an extra significant place.

    Go away and stop trying to change things which don't need to be changed. There is so much that needs fixing, but this shouldn't be anywhere near the top of the list, even if you think it would be a good thing.

    1. stanimir

      Re: We should be progressing further!

      circles are measure in Pi ;)

  88. Terry Cloth

    _1984_ coming a bit late this century?

    Anybody remember the old geezer in Orwell's _1984_, complaining he wanted his pints back because his kidneys couldn't handle these damn' half-liters?

  89. crisis

    wow, some people really like their beer in pints

    Having lived though the change over from imperial to the metric system in Australia during the 1970's I don't know what the fuss is all about.

    Just do it. its not like you are going to wake up one morning and suddenly the world is turned upside down, it will happen gradually and with thought,

    Yes there will be some extra expense in changing road signs etc.. but this will not be much more than the regular repairs and replacements.

    The benefits far out weigh the costs.

    AND... i would be very surprised if your local English pub would be forced to stop supplying the pint.. We retained our unique beer sizes.

  90. bep


    You can still get schooners and middies, they just put the metric measurement on the side; huge sacrifice lads. Not many drank pints in those days, but you get them in 'Irish' pubs now. The reason to change the road signs and speedos is to get people used to the measurements. It's really a lot simpler, believe me.

    1. Thing

      Re: Yep

      Not true... Depends on the city. In Melbourne at least pints seem to be more common than schooners.

      1. crisis

        Re: Yep

        Traditionally the colder the climate the bigger the serve. This is to stop the beer from becoming warm by the time you get to the bottom of the glass.

        This is why pints are very rare in Sydney /Brisbane but more common in Melbourne /Hobart

  91. Filippo Silver badge


    I'd like the imperial system to become obsolete, and I don't think an effort in this direction is a complete waste of time - but, seriously, the cost/benefit isn't hot enough to do it at this point.

    1. This Side Up

      Re: meh

      "I'd like the imperial system to become obsolete, and I don't think an effort in this direction is a complete waste of time - but, seriously, the cost/benefit isn't hot enough to do it at this point."

      The sooner we do it the sooner we start reaping the benefits. There is nothing to be gained by continued foot-dragging.

  92. Steve Hosgood

    The reason....

    The reason for anyone wanting to finish off the (mostly done) job of getting rid of the last vestiges of the old measurement system is that for Britain to be Great again, we need to be designing, engineering and making stuff to trade with the rest of the world. For that we need a workforce inherently able to work in the same units as our customers will want. Which is metric.

    ( Forget the anomaly that the U.S. still works in U.S.C; as a trading partner they are well down the list in terms of volume of trade. )

    The thing is that while our street signs insist on forcing miles and MPH down our throats, most British people struggle to reckon longer distances in those units that we need for our prosperity. Even those units we need for our own purposes 99% of the time.

    Changing the roadsigns need not be expensive. It's not as if you actually have to *replace* the existing signs. Councils use sticky retro-reflective plastic patches all the time to correct spelling mistakes and other minor stuff on signs. All you have to do is change the rules to require new signs to be put up with km distances, and permit old miles signs to be patched to km as part of a rolling refurbishment program. You could also expect central govt. to pony up a bit of cash to allow councils to train up a few extra blokes with "working at height" qualifications just to go and patch the ludicrous signs claiming "junction in XXXm" where "m" means "miles". Which crack-smoking bureaucrat ever allowed that abuse of international conventions I have no idea.

    Yes - it will be inconvenient for us drivers for about a month. Just as the conversion from £sd to £p was an inconvenience for a month or two in 1971. I was there. I remember it (just about). But now we reap the rewards of that month or two of inconvenience back then. Same with the roadsigns.

    And our children will thank us for it.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: The reason....

      Our workforces do work in millimetres and kilos (and Nm-1 and the rest). Unless they are dealing with the US when they might work in inches and feet and lbs as well.

      British engineering companies are not losing out on sales to our European neighbours because we are using Whitworth threads - we use M4 and M12 and every M inbetween like everyone else.

    2. Rampant Spaniel
      Thumb Down

      Re: The reason....

      Yes I always thought buying beer in litres was getting in the way of us returning to greatness. Not to mention how confusing having road signs in miles, I bet most engineers never even manage to get to work, let alone build anything. I bet they spend most of their time parked on the hard shoulder converting to km's.

      Of course, our fall from greatness has nothing to do with us offering degrees in pub management rather than ensuring our kids can read, write and count. It has nothing to do with all those parents who rather spend all their money in gala bingo and on bargain madness booze rather than ensuring their kids get off the playstation and do their homework.

      There are very few vestiges of the imperial system left. The areas of our life where it did matter, where it did confer a competitive advantage to change, have already been changed. The problem with our country is we are carrying too many lazy bugger, too many people have rendered themselves unemployable and far too many people are simply not educated to a high enough level or are educated in a less useful field of study.

      If we want to be great we need generations of chemists, engineers, mathematicians and for those not suited to university, we need people who understand what is required to hold down a job. That you have to turn up, every day, on time. That you need to be able to read, write, count and talk coherently. Our economy and society are wrecked, but not by pint glasses? It has been wrecked by laze and entitlement.

  93. Zog The Undeniable
    Thumb Down

    Keep it just as it is

    It keeps our BRITISH minds more agile than Johnny Foreigner's if we have to understand and use both systems. Personally I use whatever seems most appropriate; millimetres are more useful for small things than fractions of an inch (32nds anyone?) or thou, but inches work better than centimetres for medium-sized things. The metric system has nothing to rival the foot, although metres and yards are equally useful in a welly-wanging contest. Kilometres are too small and I dismiss them. People are weighed in stones and pounds, unless you're American and can't cope with base-14 units. Everything else can be grams, kilograms or metric tonnes; the latter is as near as dammit the same as a long ton anyway. Finally, fathoms are the most logical way to measure depth ever devised; most people can imagine how many men standing on each others' heads it would take to reach the surface.

    I like the current mess better than either system on its own. Of course, if you're doing SCIENCE then you should probably stick to SI units, otherwise the distinction between lb and lbf is going to turn around and bite you, and energy calculations never work.

    1. Steve Hosgood

      Re: Keep it just as it is

      It doesn't keep our minds more agile - it just means that most British people can't use the system we need if we're to be meaningful in the world any more.

      Inches don't work better than centimetres (or millimetres). That's just you.

      People are not weighed in stones - go to the gym for a workout, you'll weigh yourself or be weighed in kg. Go to the doctor's - you'll be weighed in kg. And if you're not familiar with your weight in kg, and your doctor makes a mistake, how are you to point out "hang on, I'm 72kg, not 82kg". Such a mistake could kill you.

      You're obviously trolling with the fathoms bit, I'll pass on that!

      But no - it's not about "just using SI for science". We all need to use it for everything. That way, when we use it for something serious and make a mistake, we'll notice that the answer is absurd *before* building the doomed bridge (or whatever we were doing).

  94. Alex Bailey

    Where else in the world... it actually illegal for a pub to sell beer in metric units or to put metric measures on a road sign? There is no such prohibition on either of these anywhere else in the world, even the USA has some road signs (although hard to find) with km on them.

    And come on Zog, if British minds are more agile then why is it that Britain and the USA are both way down on international league tables when it comes to mathematics ratings in schools?

    A little consistency would go a long way to saving the country money and helping us regain our place in industry. Almost the entire world uses metric, by not finishing conversion we're doing nothing more than cutting off our collective noses to spite our faces.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      international league tables

      why is it that Britain and the USA are both way down on international league tables when it comes to mathematics

      'cos our education system's shit, and our kids have no respect for their teachers who are devoid of meaninful authority.

      fekk all to do with metric/imperial

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: international league tables

        Amen, exactly the same problem as the UK. Having lived in both countries, run a business in both countries, I can say that the problems I experienced in both had nothing to do with beer coming in pints. It was entirely to do with poor parenting, under investment in education and people believing that getting razzed every night of the week was more important than earning to money to pay for it.

        At no point in the past 10 years have I ever seen a need to abolish the few vestiges of the imperial system. The only arguments I hear for it are basically lies or 'because it hasn't been done yet'. The same type of argument we heard from those that didn't want any metric. We have metric where we need it, we have it where there is a cause for it. the rest simply doesn't warrant the effort.

        If you want a public works project that is fine, have one that produces a real benefit. Build a hospital, expand a canal network for freight, rebuild some roads, replace some railway ballast, regenerate some old housing, build some playgrounds. Do something useful, do something that will actually impact positively on peoples lives. Pissing money up the wall on somebodies pet peeve in the middle of a serious financial crisis is utterly irresponsible and personally I find it reprehensible that people would be so selfish. We need people in work, we need them earning and teaching their kids that it is more important to do well in school and earn a wage than it is to play COD 4.

    2. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Where else in the world...

      In AUS it was illegal to use 'imperial' measurements after the change-over. There were prison terms specified for crimes like that.

      It was a messy process at times. The initial change was driven by a (Australian from an Irish Catholic background) / anti-American party / Francophile leader, so it had implicit cultural overtones, but they promised we would still be able to use 'imperial' measurements. Except for measuring things. (that is convered by Weights and Measures, the people who make sure scales are accurate etc). Then they went hardline because they could. Then they relaxed because it doesn't matter.

      The only thing I am aware of that a significant number of people still use the 'old measure' for is height (medical staff will still accept your height in feet/inches). Bookcases were a 25 year hold-out too, but I think that's gone now. Most tape measures are now metric / imperial again, but most rulers are imperial-only.

      Perhaps the worst affected were the people responsible for maintaining road-overpasses. They all changed their truck-height warning signs to metric over a very short period. (Sadly, a typical piece of stupid short-sighted metrification) Then slightly later they all added the imperial measurement back as an extra sign -- most truckies did not at automatically know the clearance of their trucks in metric and there was a lot of expensive damage done in a rather short period.

      Nobody here knows what a pint or a half-pint is (most milk is sold by migrants and children), even though the names would still be useful. During the change over the actual volume of a bottle of milk swung around a bit, and we all got used to just saying 'a bottle'. You still have to do that now. You can try a poly-sylabic term like "three hundred mill i litre", but "one of the very small cartons" is more likely to work.

      You can get a 'pint' of English beer in some pubs, but it may be a very small pint -- as long as the glass is marked correctly, say '350ml', they can call it anything they want.

      There are now a LOT of people here from non-English/AUS/NZ backgrounds, whose parents never used 'imperial' measurements. Is that the case in the UK? Presumably, total metrification will make it easier for euro-zone migrants. Is that likely to be important?

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: Where else in the world...

        -- most rulers are METRIC only --

  95. Thing

    Not 'uniquely confusing'

    If Aussies can handle this lots JUST for beer I think we can cope with pints and litres geoff

  96. Steve Hosgood

    It's amazing...

    Amazing to find *any* readers of El Reg. who actually want to keep some outmoded trash (like the vestiges of the imperial system) when there is NO WAY any of them would be seen dead with an outmoded trash mobile phone the size of a brick with an aerial sticking out of the top!

    El. Reg. readers are famed for being right on the ball regarding where to get the utterly utterly latest new shiny Android XYZ phone running IceCream TripleSandwichWithExtraMayo (and all the latest apps) at a good price. Why would any of them admit to supporting a creaking weights and measures system dumped on us nearly a thousand years ago by Norman French invaders?

    No - come on guys. We want the LATEST toys. Imperial measures are the equivalent of being the size of a brick with an aerial sticking out the top. Or maybe the equivalent of MSDOS running on a 12MHz 286.

    And about as useful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's amazing...

      "El. Reg. readers are famed for being right on the ball regarding where to get the utterly utterly latest new shiny etc..."

      El Reg readers are also famed for taking the piss out of anyone who evangelises over such shininess. And so with your attitude to metric measures. Imperial measures will die out as the old fart generation dies out, or sooner if they are as problematic as you believe.

      Meanwhile, leave us be. My desire for a pint is not going to cause any bridges to collapse or Mars probes to miss.

  97. Tom 13

    If keeping track of the two systems is too mentally taxing for Lord Geoffrey Howe,

    perhaps his title should be removed and given to someone who at least meets the average mental capacity of a British citizen?

    Look, I'm a 'Merkin. I've never had a pint, probably never will. (Not because I object to the idea, but because I'm a poor sod who is allergic to hops. And while a pint of beer is something the body can handle, a pint of gin and tonic has a somewhat more dramatic effect.) But even though this whole thing doesn't affect me in the least, it still irritates me when one of these loons takes to the public stage to pontificate such utter dreck.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      "I've never had a pint, probably never will"

      Have this instead, it's made from apples. Mostly apples. No hops

      Ignore the foamy head, it just got a bit shook up on the way from the West country.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: If keeping track of the two systems is too mentally taxing for Lord Geoffrey Howe,

      Give the man a break, he is old enough to remember being paid in salt! :) When you are older than yoda just see how confusing it is for you ordering a pint of beer in the heaviness subsidised Westminster bar. He had his mouth switched over to metric years ago, imperial beer just doesn't fit! (at least not alongside all the bullshit making the opposite journey).

  98. Nick Kramer

    Metic OK but not Centimetric

    I can work in feet and inches meters and millimeters but I consider the centimetre an abomination.

    The centimeter can too easily be confused with the good old inch and is not a metric unit. It was introduced during the French revolution with the 10 day week and the 40 day month, 400 day year and should have gone the same way.

    As for Lord Howe he has never recovered from Denis Healy's rebuke that being attacked by Geoffrey Howe was like being nuzzled by a dead sheep.

    Think of the children - stop teaching the centimeter in British schools. A policy that would appeal to Imperial minded Luddites and Metric advocates alike.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Metic OK but not Centimetric

      "centimeter can too easily be confused with the good old half-inch..."

      Fixed that for you.

      Conveniently for schools a centimetre is a good size for children to read off a ruler unlike fiddly mm.

  99. Kubla Cant


    My car shows its fuel consumption in miles per gallon. It's about 20 years since I bought a gallon of fuel, and I have no idea how much one costs. Yes, I can work it out, but that uses brain-power that I really should be applying to my driving.

    On investigation, it turns out that I can change the units* used to display fuel consumption. I can have kilometres per litre, or litres per hundred kilometer or gallons per hundred miles. What I can't have is the hybrid unit that would be really useful: miles per litre.

    *When I recently set the satnav to use Imperial units, it started to display altitude in yards!

    1. Steve Hosgood

      Re: Consistency

      Just use litres per 100km. It's by far the best way because (assuming you know how far your journey will be) then you can easily work out (in your head) how much fuel to buy.

      It's just the same as making any other change to your thinking. A bit of a misery for a couple of months and then you never think the old way again. My car drinks 8.5L per 100km. If I want to drive to London (about 350km) I'll need 3.5 times 8.5 litres of fuel. Call it 4 times 9 to make it easier on the brain and to have a bit left for a safety margin - that'll be 36 litres then.

      Simples! <<eek>>

      I run my GPS in metric because it's a Garmin, and when run in "Statute" units, it announces everything in miles and feet! I'll have the kilometres please, that makes it possible the get used to journey distances in km (despite what the archaic roadsigns claim) and which I need to know so as to estimate how much fuel to buy (see above).

    2. This Side Up

      Re: Consistency

      "My car shows its fuel consumption in miles per gallon. It's about 20 years since I bought a gallon of fuel, "

      I can remember very well when I last bought a gallon of petrol. It was in 1979 when I was running low and had to stop at Heston services. I put in one gallon which was enough to get me to a metric filling station.

  100. Scott Wheeler

    So, may we assume that he is also in favour of abolishing those outmoded and confusing measures, the minute, hour, day and week? As for the month - may Delors forbid - it isn't even of a consistent size!

    So, let us change to the orderly, rationale and above all, easily understood metric system: the kilosecond, megasecond and gigasecond. Any right-thinking person will agree that this makes sense!

  101. Arachnoid

    Maybe we should join the Euro curency too..........NOT.

    Dear Jeffrey do you realise the cost to industry and the economy it would be to change over the the European metric would be billions of pounds down the drain and al to please a political thats sounds famiiar doesnt it.

    1. Steve Hosgood

      "Fail" indeed, Arachnoid.

      Industry changed to metric years ago. Doing so *earned* us billions of pounds, since no-one in the world was going to buy our stuff it was all in wacky mediaeval measurements.

      Double "Fail" in fact:

      What's this "European metric unit" rubbish then? How did Europe magically force Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudia Arabia, Egypt, all of Africa, all of south America, Canada, and Switzerland to use "their" metric system then?

      Answer - because it's nothing to do with bloody Europe. Well, nothing to do with the bloody E.U. anyway. It was designed by philosophers from everywhere during the 1700s to be a better replacement for all the random different systems in use in those days. And if anything, it was kicked off by the Royal Society of London. So it's "ours" :-)

      Britain has been "an officially metric country" since the mid 1990s. Trouble is, as Lord Howe says, there are some pointless anomalies that are an embarrassment to the image of the country. Like the road signs. Like the fact that you're not allowed to buy a litre of beer in an Austrian themed bar in Britain.

      Ireland saw sense and fixed its roadsigns 15 years ago. Their kids are now just that bit better than British kids at estimating distances in a measuring system that anyone else uses. We can do that too. In a recession, every little you can do to improve your competitiveness is important.

      1. PJI

        Bit earlier than that

        I am in late middle age, to put it politely. From the age of about 10 I was taught only metric units, or SI I think we called them. GB made Metric units legal in the mid 19th century (having had proposers of something similar for a couple of centuries before that) and went officially metric in the early 1960s. It is said that only Myanmar, Liberia and USA are not metric. But the first two seem to be increasingly so and even the USA is getting there. Actually, good, old Imperial was formalised as late at the 1840s.

        So, get up to date, into the computer age too. If we were all like the anti-metrics, I suppose we would be back in the late Middle Ages, if we were lucky.

  102. MJI Silver badge

    Some people use both

    How about railway modellers?

    4mm to 1 foot

    2 foot door is 8mm wide

    8'6" bogie wheelbase is 34mm, 3' wheel is 12mm.

    Only real problem is 16.5mm is NOT 4'8.5", need 18.83mm gauge for that

  103. Chris007

    by the time I got to this article...

    it had 328 comments - The most I have ever seen for a topic (even an Orlowski climate change piece!!)

    Is this a record - especially given the article is less than 48 hours old?

  104. This Side Up
    Thumb Up

    Howe should have done it when he had the chance.

    The current situation gives us the worst of all worlds - obsolete quantities and awkward figures. If i get milk from the pound shop or the newsagent I can get a 2 litre bottle, but if I go into the supermarket I have to have 1.136 litres or 2.272 litres. WYF?

    Beer should be 500ml for a large and 300ml for a small one like on the continent (though it does vary a bit). Glasses don't last forever so there could be a phased changeover. Pubs could decide to go metric and then sell their remaining stock to those continuing with pints BUT there should be no new pint or half pint glasses for serving drinks in pubs and restaurants (no problem for souvenir shops). Wine and spirits are already metric, and we hardly noticed.

    I don't buy petrol by value - the price is going up and down so much that I would never know how much I was getting. I know how many km per litre I get but £ per pound is always changing. I normally put in 20 litres and pay whatever it costs.

    Metricating oyr traffic signs would save lives and avoid many bridge strikes because continental drivers would be familiar with the units, and UK drivers would be safer on the continent. Many height, width and weight restrictions are already metric or dual units.

    1. stanimir

      Re: Howe should have done it when he had the chance.

      the small beer is 330ml, btw.... and it should be banned anyways :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Howe should have done it when he had the chance.

        Not here. 3 decilitres. A drop over half a pint. A Herrgottli is smaller. A Grosses is a lot bigger. You'ld look a bit of a pansy at a German beer festival, such as teh Oktoberfest, with just a pint.

  105. Richard Gadsden

    500ml servings of beer would make all the glasses oversized

    Which would be nice, and CAMRA should be on-side - if every beer glass in the country was instantly oversized then we might get served the amount we paid for, but with a head on.

  106. Dropper

    Re: Agree

    Yeah, then when I arrived in the US and tried my hand at cooking in an American kitchen I was presented with their weird measurement called.. CUPS..

    WTF is a 'Cup'? Do two Cups make a mug? Why is there no place for saucers?

    And then of course it took a while to realise American gallons are wrong, which partly explained why the fuel economy of a US hybrid couldn't match that of a 1970s Ford Capri.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Agree

      Very true, I hate cups because theres so much variance, fine with cooking, not fine with baking. I just convert to metric or imperial and adjust until its right. Then it works and stays working.

  107. Rampant Spaniel

    Metric causes binge drinking

    Apparently ridiculous leaps of logic are in vogue here so I may as well play the game.

    I have noticed that there is a considerable increase in binge drinking since bottled drinks started to be sold in metric amounts. Obviously metric is to blame for all our kids running around drunk at 4am. We should ban metric and switch back to pints \ quarts and gallons for all alcohol. This should solve our financial and social ills overnight!

  108. Purlieu


    how big is a 10 gallon hat, then

  109. ReefMSX

    Lord Howe can go take a 100m walk off a 100yrd pier!

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to live in Germany where everything is metric, and I have to say that whilst it would be nice having everything as metric, some of our Imperial measures are just more convenient.

    I'm in my twenties and grew up in the UK, so I basically consider myself as a "mostly" metric child. I understand litres, grams, kilograms, Celsius, centimetres and metres, whereas ounces, Fahrenheit and feet (as a distance measure) are foreign to me and generally something my parents use. I struggle to know how much it is if you don't tell me in metric.

    However, pints, miles, stones (for weight of a person) and feet/inches (for height of a person) make perfect sense to me due to to exposure to them. Giving someone's height in metres doesn't make a whole lot of sense and is difficult to comprehend for me, although I know they are fine with it on the continent. Kilometres for distance is also difficult for me to gauge how far it is compared to miles, which are all over our road signs and I'm exposed to constantly. I'm getting better at it though.

    Overall I'd say measuring milk or orange juice in litres makes more sense (pretty sure we already do that anyway), and so does giving weights in kilograms (I'm completely used to this now). Temperatures we basically do use Celsius already except for newspapers or a weather presenter using Fahrenheit for when it's hot because it sounds more impressive. If it was possible to change all road signs and move over to kilometres then I'd be fine with that, but I think it's logistically difficult and not necessary.

    The only thing I think it makes sense to keep is pints for beers. As someone who lived in Germany and enjoyed many half litres of beer (or full litres at beer festivals) it doesn't make a whole lot of difference. A pint is slightly more than the half litre measure they use in bars over there, but only fractionally. Pint is in our nomenclature and I think we should keep it as a "pint of beer" and "going for a pint" etc.

    Sorry this turned out longer than intended. In summary: I do think we should move closer towards metric only, but let's keep the pints in pubs.

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