Long-time readers have two attributes relevant to today’s topic: first, they know the Czar is actually a big fan of the metric system, and second, there is something certainly wrong with them. Who the hell reads this site for as many years as we’ve been keeping it going?
Off-topic, per usual. Anyway, the point about the metric system is that while most Americans hate it hate it hate it, the truth is that most of us use it daily without even realizing it. Okay, you might be thinking (because long-time readers have sacrificed the luxury of thought), here goes the Czar on another of his pro-metric system rants.
Nope. Just the opposite: the Czar wants to point out what a fat load of fakers most of world is about the metric system. Okay, some folks are genuine: the Czar has an Australian friend who literally has no comprehension of how Fahrenheit works. And you no doubt know some Asian or European people who really do think in terms of centimeters and meters.
But a good portion of the world (like England and Canada) are total fakes about it. Sure the signs all say they measure petrol mileage by kilometers per liter, and that this bag of apples weighs 2.3 kilos…particularly when foreigners are about. But put them into a quiet conversation by themselves and it’s all miles per gallon and pounds again.
The French were so keen on the metric system that hundreds of thousands of people had to die before it was adopted during the French Revolution, but one can still find the livre in use in the country, and you still can find Germans using the pfund. Oh sure, the Germans will be quick to tell you that the pfund is simply a colloquial nickname for 500 grams of weight and is totally metric, but guess what that’s roughly equivalent to: a pound. That’s right: it’s as if Americans announced they were going metric, but had all these nicknames for units that the metric system doesn’t quite have defined…and we used all our old Imperial terms. Sorry, Deutschland, Das ist ein Topf mit Scheiße.
And don’t think the Czar is dumping on Europe, as deserving as that always is. Filipinos still use Imperial units all over the place. The Japanese are notorious for abandoning the metric system when only Japanese are around, and the Chinese still use the li to cover a third of a mile. One way you know you have been accepted by the local community is when they start dropping the metric system around you and using traditional weights and measures instead. The Czar avoids Africa, but is pretty sure the metric system is only found in the big cities when government minders are around.
Although no one ever talks about it, the metric system has another constant built into it: it’s adopted and used by bureaucratic force.
Want another example of total crap?
No, not the people. The concept. As any homebound American knows, everything in Canada has to be in English et en français. In Quebec, of course, it’s the other way around, but generally Americans note the use of French. Isn’t it funny, we think, that all the provinces of Canada save one speak Engish, sorta, and that one Kwibeck one speaks French? You’d think they’d just switch to English.
Non, non, non, reply les québécois, although for some reason this sounds way too much like Maurice Chevalier in the Czar’s imagination. Les Québécois sont une nationalité unique au Canada, distincte et spéciale des autres Canadiens, tout comme les Premières Nations sont séparées des autres. Nous maintenons une identité culturelle unique et défendons notre souveraineté comme chérie et importante and all that. Basically, the Quebecois are not some provincial rubes, but are totally unique in all the world! And we require special treatment and considerations! Respect our identity, you English sons of feminine-noun dogs.
This is, as the Germans would say, also a crock. This is really what happens all over Quebec:
“Hey, Gordie, did you see the Habs blow that over-time shoot out last night? I couldn’t believe it. It’s like Carey Price is good for, like, two and two-thirds periods. I think he’s playing hurt. Anyway, I… [possible American walks into the place]…uh, Dites-moi ce que…uh… vous avez besoin de moi pour…um… apporter votre pot luck samedi. Je dois m’arrêter au… le dispensaire de la bière…um….et prendre un peu de Moulson. [possible American sees there’s nothing interesting going on and walks out] Wow, that was close. Did you get any of what I said? Let me know if I can bring anything besides beer to your potluck Saturday.”
It’s like the metric system: as long as there’s a risk of someone on the outside being around, that weird, guttural French comes out. But a couple of Habs put together, and they’re speaking English. Good English. Really good English.
Not to say Americans don’t do our own things, too. Foreign visitors are well aware that two Americans in a room will bad-mouth each other’s political parties and complain about how trashed our country is. But if that foreigner were to make a vaguely similar statement to those guys, and suddenly it’s all Brad Paisley music and eagle talons clawing the poor bastard to death. We get it.
But unlike the metric system or French, we’re not trying to push that misery onto everyone else.