The empire strikes back

It’s hard to be a metric person in the UK.

Metric measures became legal in the British Empire in 1873 but it appears that your typical Brit will never accept them. There are several societies who appear to have the sole purpose of opposing metrification in the UK, and those who have been convicted of illegally selling items priced only in imperial measures are referred to as Metric Martyrs. Meanwhile, distances are given in feet, yards and miles; weights are given in ounces, pounds and stones (14 pounds, if you care!); volumes are given in fluid-ounces and pints; and temperatures are given in both Celcius and Fahrenheit. Even older measures are still in use too: allotments are still defined in rods, poles and perches – and I’m not even going to try and explain what they are….

It seems that those who oppose metrification are winning at the moment. It is legal to price and sell things in pints, pounds and ounces – just as long as you have an equivalent metric measure displayed as well. The only exceptions are beer and cider on draught, which can be sold in pints, and only in pints.

Our local Co-Op (supermarket) has just switched their packaging from whole numbers of litres of milk to whole numbers of pints.
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Of course, the price has gone up, the containers are heavier and more awkward to use, and frankly, it just looks all wrong.

Then people wonder why you end up with a situation like this where the wrong units were used, and NASAs Mars Climate Orbiter crashed and burned.

And before anyone jumps down my throat, yes I know that the Imperial System is different to the American system, despite both including pounds, ounces, fluid-ounces, miles etc. One more cause of confusion.

Meanwhile: more sheep for Franklin
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2 responses to “The empire strikes back

  1. All the Way With Knitting

    Oh Lordie I had some of that in stew’s enough to go veggie.

  2. Ted

    We in Canada deal with similar confusions about metric vs Imperial vs American.

    Sometimes it’s nearly as bad as the sizing systems used for knitting needles. At least with packaging/measuring food and following recipes, the measuring system is stated; unlike in knitting patterns where one will see the instruction “use a size 4 needle”. (Yes, still.) Can you imagine if we were reading recipes that said “4 whole milk, 5 flour, 3 sugar, 1/2 soda”?

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