Well, we Gormogons love infighting. Watching the playful shoving match between Dr. J., GorT, and Volgi over the metric system is a strong reminder to you readers that we Castle men do not march in lockstep.
Each of the Czars overwhelmingly brilliant colleagues is correct. But let the Czar add some thoughts, as he tends to wander in and out of the metric system on a daily basis.
For common estimates, the Czar agrees that Volgi is right: a yard measures how many steps it takes to cover a distance. A foot measures how many things you can stuff into a shoe. An inch measures how many thumb-widths something us. A cup is how much liquid your two hands can hold when, well, cupped. These are inherently easy to conceptualize.
But the Czar also agrees that the metric system is really damned easy. The Czar frequently uses it for dimensions less than an inch. And he reminds all of you that you use the metric system every freaking day. If you worry about the wattage on your electric bill, or think about how many gigabytes a downloaded movie is, or think about a roller coaster in terms of Gs, and so on, you are using the metric system.
And, well, the Czar has yet to see a firearm enthusiast who cannot instantly flip from a .223 to a 5.56mm measurement. The Czar has seen metric haters go on and on about calibers, easily switching from metric to imperial measurements without any hesitation.
Know why? Because these are things you know how to use.
Most people who oppose the metric system immediately argue against ridiculous and seemingly arbitrary conversion values. Allow us to quote no less than Confucius*:
For us hu-mons, it’s a lot easier to eyeball (or visualize) the difference between three and four feet, or five and seven inches, than (approximately!) 0.9 and 1.2 meters, or 12.7 and 17.78 centimeters (note: not actually an official metric unit, but a practical subdivision).
Yes, and well…no. Because if you grew up using the metric system, you would not think of it in these termsbecause you could make the following argument:
It’s a lot easier to eyeball (or visualize) the difference between one and two meters, or 600 and 750 millimeters, than (approximately!) 3.28 feet and 6.56 feet, or 23.6 and 29.5 inches (note: not actually an official SI unit, but a practical subdivision).
Sorry, Volgi: but your argument travels equally well in both directions.
The reader is invited to pause for a moment and ask whether it is easier to add 48cm to 150cm, or more practical to add 1′-7″ to 4′-11″. As someone who uses foot + inch overlaps a lot, the Czar finds metric a lot easier when doing stuff with measurements (as opposed to talking about them). Any decimal system is easier than 12 + fractions = 1 + 1/12 subdivisions. Calculating a whole buncha different lengths is easier if we convert it then ramp the sum back.
However, Volgi absolutely nails it that a lot of pro-metric folks labor under the impression that metric units are inherently more logical. They are not. In fact, they are even more capricious than imperial measurements; we just dont talk about it in public.**
A little discussed reality is that metric values are constantly being redefined. Volgi references a meter to being one-two hundred ninety-nine thousand, seven-hundred ninety-two, four-hundred fifty-eights of a second that light travels in a vacuum. This has only been true since 1983. And because the speed of light in a vacuum may not be as constant as we hoped, this definition is certain to change as well. Why not? Since 1668, the definition for a meter has changed many times, ranging from earth-based distances to krypton emissions.
Is centigrade at all logical? 0 (freezing) and 100 (boiling) sounds good, but water does not freeze instantly at 0°C, nor does it absolutely boil at 100°C, either.
The gram is even better. Originally, the gram was basically equal to the weight of water in a cubic meter, except as we just saw, we have no idea what a meter really is. In fact, the General Conference of Weights and Measures hopes to have a definition of what a gram is by 2014 at the earliest. Because nobody really knows, other than the fact 2.2 pounds is a kilogram.
The Czar would really like to go on and on at this point, and take you through all the standard weights and measures of the metric systemexcept you already know what will happen. Every single unit is completely made up, and winds up being either arbitrary or so laden with provisions*** that the clarification undermines the base definition.
The Czar once got into an argument with a guy over this. The Czar was discussing the easy utility of the metric system when the other fellow erupted into a bizarre tirade about carpentry. Why should he throw away all his drill bits, saws, jigs, and other woodworking toolswhich use fractional inchesand learn a whole new system.
See, thats just the error. No one is asking you to do that. In fact, the two systems coexist nicely together. No one is forcing you to throw out a 3/16″ drill bit; but if you happen to need a 3mm drill bit, you oughta know its smaller than a 3/8″ bit.
*For those who came in late, Confucius is the Gormogons Œcumenical Volgi.
**The Czar thinks Volgi is spot on that the French have hoodwinked people on the perfection of the metric system. It is in no way logical, inherently useful, or based on universal understanding. And for the all the Europeans who tout it, it doesnt take long to see them chuck it in favor of local traditional measurements. English drivers may pump gas in liters, but still measure economy in miles per gallon. Chinese nationals may post directions in kilometers, but still talk of li. And so on.
***Proof? The actual definition of the meter includes the comment where lengths ℓ which are sufficiently short for the effects predicted by general relativity to be negligible with respect to the uncertainties of realisation. Funny how you dont see small print like this when discussing inches.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.