I know the title probably upset all my friends who are either European, or scientific, or of the forward thinking academic persuasion. But I do…I hate the metric system. Maybe not with the burning fire of a thousand white hot suns, but it is definitely not a “live and let live” relationship. I prefer the other way…the old way…I am not even sure what it is called…I think it goes by names like the Imperial system…or Apothecary Measurements…and stuff like that. Since the rest of the world seems to have abandoned it (except for England with regard to some things)…I propose claiming this unwanted or unused thing and renaming it the American system.
Why do I dislike the metric system so much?
Perhaps I am already crotchety and set in my ways: In the immortal words of Grampa Simpson, “My car gets thirty rods to the hogshead..and that’s the way I like it!!”
Perhaps I take joy in exasperating my scientific friends by asking them to convert units of measurement into terms I understand: “I see, but what is that in furlongs per foot/pound?”
But perhaps maybe, just maybe I can muster a quasi-philosophical argument that sounds less like an excuse and more like a reason…and here it goes:
The metric system is a made-up, arbitrary system based on the whim of some random person. I can hear him now pontificating in a snooty French Accent, “It’s called a meter, and it is three inches longer than a yard…you know… just to upset those Americans.” or “It’s called a kilogram. It is a little more than twice as heavy as a pound making conversion between the two frustrating as all get out.”
In short, the metric system is detached from the world. It has the cold sterility of enlightenment objectivism. It is a perfect system for the idealized world of clockwork deism. Yes, it may be perfect, but so is Esperanto, and you don’t hear too many people these day speaking that made-up “perfect” language.
The other way…the correct way…the American way… is incarnational. It is connected to the earth, to people, and to how they live their lives. How tall is that horse? Lets count it in lengths of my hand An acre: the amount of land a man could plow in a day. How long is that? Lets walk it off in feet. Teaspoons and tablespoons, I have them in my house. No need for specialized equipment…just grab one and start spooning A mile? Originally from Latin mille passum which means “a thousand steps.” Even other more obscure measurements make sense once you understand their origins. A league, as in 20,000 of them under the sea, equals 3 miles. Why 3 miles? It’s the distance a man can walk in an hour.
So that’s my argument. Learn your weight in stones. Measure your dog in hands. Develop a new unit of measurement based on how far a car on the interstate travels in an hour. Reject the metric system.
And don’t get me started on Celsius…..