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United Kingdom Education Math Politics

David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures 942

00_NOP writes: Children in the U.K. have been taught in metric measures in school since (at least) 1972, but yesterday British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that they should actually be taught in Imperial measures (which are still in use officially to measure road distances and speeds, but not really anywhere else). Is this because he hasn't a clue about science or because he is catering to a particular political base?
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

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  • FP? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dosius ( 230542 ) <bridget@buric.co> on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:23AM (#48034107) Journal

    It's time for national units to finally be put out to pasture. Both US units and UK units.

    -uso.

    • Re:FP? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:31AM (#48034139)

      Like i've said before, i willing to make a trade: USA starts using metric and we'll start using decimal point. Fair enough?

      • Re:FP? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:43AM (#48034183)

        Avery other nation has already made the trade, they switched to metric because imperial units were completely unusable when dealing internationally.
        Just recently it was found out that the Vasa ship [wikipedia.org] was built asymmetrically because the workers were a combination of Swedish and Dutch and there was 11 inches on a Dutch (Amsterdam specifically) foot and 12 inches on a Swedish foot, so while the difference between the feet isn't that big the difference in the inch sizes are pretty significant.
        Staying with national specific units is just retarded.

        • Re:FP? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @05:26AM (#48034385)
          Bullshit!

          Vasa was built asymmetrically because it was a Swedish engineering project. All Swedish engineering projects by definition must start big, go way over-budget, become completely unusable and reach market so late that they're no longer interesting. The project then burns to ashes, rises from the ashes reborn as something amazing and get sold to someone else. As an example look at "ericsson pipe rider cable modem" on Google and you'll see a proper Swedish engineering project that went so completely shitty that it would have killed the company and ended up rising from the ashes as a patent pool on the 10,000 things they created while failing at this.

          This is why I refer to all products resulting from failed Swedish projects as Vasa Projects.
        • Re:FP? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @06:58AM (#48034883)

          Staying with national specific units is just retarded.

          It's only retarded if trade is your primary concern. While I would prefer that the US were a little more metric, I can hardly blame the milk manufacturers for not abandoning their equipment just to make the 1 gallon milk jug round off nicely to 3 or 4 liters. And road signs - there really is no compelling reason to go towards km on the roads. It only becomes an issue for the minority who cross into Canada and Mexico, and those people are quite capable of reading the "km/h" letters on their speedometer.

          Engineering is another matter - in the vast majority of cases there really is no excuse to be using anything but metric. We have a certain failed Mars probe to prove the case. It drives me crazy that I need both a metric and a standard set of socket wrenches and hex keys. A small matter, but still quite strange. Many (most?) of the appliances that I have are assembled with standard-unit nuts, bolts, and screws. Now, I'm sure there aren't a lot of American appliances exported overseas, but it still seems insane... Whirlpool must replace their drill bits and driver bits fairly often - it's not clear to me why they stick with standard sized consumables.

          • Re:FP? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Russ1642 ( 1087959 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @08:31AM (#48035849)

            They aren't capable of reading the km/h letters on their speedometers. Really. We have to put signs up all over the place near the border reminding US drivers that our highway speed limit isn't 120 miles / hr.

          • Re:FP? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by countach ( 534280 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @09:03AM (#48036253)

            Just because you switch to metric doesn't mean you have to re-round all your products. If it's a 3.4 litre container, or dual-labelled, its not a problem. In metric countries, lots of things are in odd units. 375ml cans of coke for example. It doesn't matter.

          • Re:FP? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Barsteward ( 969998 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @09:25AM (#48036537)
            there is no need for them to change the bottling, just add the metric value on the label. thats what's happened in the UK, you still get 1 pint bottles but they are also marked 568ml. I'm sure at some point in the future they will dispense with the imperial measurement, resize the bottle down to 500ml but charge the same so make a nice little profit without actually raising the price
            • In the US, almost every consumer good has both metric and standard units. Milk, for instance, is labeled as 1 gal and 3.78 L.

    • Seems the best option to me
    • It's time for national units to finally be put out to pasture. Both US units and UK units.

      You are welcome to try to change all the street signs in the UK using miles, and all the speed limits using miles per hour, and I'll predict you'll have utter chaos because the percentage of drivers who can figure out that 80km/h = 50mph is quite low, and the percentage of drivers who can do that calculation in their head without taking their hands off the steering wheel and their eyes off the road is tiny.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Don't UK cars normally have both kph and mph on the speedometer?

      • Re:FP? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Blymie ( 231220 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @05:17AM (#48034325)

        We did it in Canada. Other countries have too. Are you claiming people are less intelligent in the UK?

        (Here's a hint... for a decade, you post signs in both, then rotate them out as they wear...)

      • Re:FP? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @06:02AM (#48034563)

        Australia made the transition back in 1974.

        You'll survive.

      • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

        British cars have the speedometer marked in mph and km/h. It would be a few weeks and then everything would be back to normal.

      • Re:FP? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lachlan Hunt ( 1021263 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @07:36AM (#48035213) Homepage

        Australia completed this change in the 70’s very successfully without any of the problems you are claiming. Educating the public about the changeover and the new speeds is part of the process. Also, do you think that anyone from the UK who takes their car across to France or Ireland has trouble adapting to the speeds? All modern cars have km/h speeds indicated, even if only as a secondary scale.

      • by Xiaran ( 836924 )
        And yet other countries have done this without a problem(my own country of Australia among them... and if you whine about not having as many people consider how much more road and distance we have compared to pussy sized little UK). Are the british and americans just inherently incompetent?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:26AM (#48034121)

    You're not an empire anymore, and going back to imperial measures won't make you one.

  • Simple answer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:28AM (#48034127)

    Is this because he hasn't a clue about science or because he is catering to a particular political base?

    Both.

    Mostly though because so many conservatives have a "we have always done it that way" attitude. Many of them don't have a clue that imperial measures are very different from US customary ones (we have 20 fluid ounces to a pint, and the US has 16). Many also don't know their pecks from their bushels, or their furlongs from their rod, poll, or perch [vermessungsseiten.de], but think the system must be good "because its traditional".

    • Well . . . the UK did manage to switch to the "New Pence", and get away from shillings, farthings and half-crowns. If anyone even knew what they were worth.

      • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

        Well . . . the UK did manage to switch to the "New Pence", and get away from shillings, farthings and half-crowns. If anyone even knew what they were worth.

        A shilling was 1/20th of a pound or 5p in decimal
        A farthing was a quarter of an old penny. There were 240 old pennies in a pound so a farthing was 1/960 of a pound or just over a tenth of a new penny
        A half-crown was two shillings and six pence, or an 8th of a pound, so 12.5p

    • Re:Simple answer (Score:4, Interesting)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:57AM (#48034241) Journal

      The US/Imperial does indeed have that 16/20 difference. I like my 568ml of real ale, but honestly the US system is much more sensible in that it's consistent with weights. But only marginally. They both share the 4 pints to the gallon, but there's no weight equivalent.

      No the closest weight equivalent is the stone which would be weight of 3.5 gallons of water.

      And what's the volume equivalent to a cwt and how many of them to the ton (long or short)?

      And anyway should we measure volume in the ounce-derived system, cubic length units or acre-feet?

      And anyway the differences are deeper. In the US/Imperial system, 1 floz is the volume of 1 ounce of water, but measured at different temperatures, so even teh base units differ.

      Anyway I think we should go back to imperial units sothe 100m sprint can yet again be called the hundred yard dash. What ho!

    • I doubt he actually cares much about this issue; he is just pandering to a group of people currently not voting for him but to whom the issue has a lot of emotional baggage, on an issue that is not too important (since such a change would never see the light of day anyway). Kind of like how el-Sisi is suddenly cracking down on Egypt's GLBT community; it's not really an issue to him and he certainly has bigger fish to fry right now, but the affected group is small enough to make it a political non-issue, an
    • Re:Simple answer (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo&world3,net> on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @06:37AM (#48034739) Homepage Journal

      It's a reaction to UKIP. Show how English he is, how much he wants to stick with English tradition instead of the modern EU way. Metric martyrs and all that bollocks.

      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

        Yeah, the metric martyrs thing was dumb, but bear in mind even UKIP only wanted traders to have the *option* of selling in pounds and ounces. AFAIK they haven't said they want children to be downgraded to retarded imperial measurements in school. If they did they'd probably lose my vote. This seems to be unique Cameron stupidiy.

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          No person in the United Kingdom has ever been prosecuted for selling in pounds and ounces. If you believe that then I have a bridge to sell you.

          If you knew your facts you would know that people have been prosecuted for selling goods using scales that don't have an official calibration certificate; which is something completely different.

          Now it might be the case that you can only get scales calibrated using the metric system these days. However there is nothing stopping you going up to a trader asking for a

    • Mostly though because so many conservatives have a "we have always done it that way" attitude. ... think the system must be good "because its traditional".

      I think you may have inadvertently stumbled upon the textbook definition of conservative. Congrats.

  • by sound+vision ( 884283 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:32AM (#48034145) Journal
    As a Breton I fully support the furthering of our national units to promote unity in these divisive times.
  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:37AM (#48034161) Journal

    Does not deserve to hold a place in office.
    What, a fucking idiot.
    No other way to put it, sorry.

  • will the Science curriculum go back to the foot pound second system [wikipedia.org] or will they have to learn metric there?
  • ... also known as a dick.
    This unit measure, like inches and feet, comes from a body part of a ancien dead king.

  • It should be moved to the trash with a considerable amount of furlongs per fortnight.
  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:56AM (#48034239)

    Then again I could just recall that John Stuart Mill was moved to remark to the House of Commons: “What I stated was, that the Conservative party was, by the law of its constitution, necessarily the stupidest party. Now, I do not retract this assertion; but I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.” (My emphasis).

    Note that this has been true from the time of Mills, 1806 - 1873, so it's not a recent phenomenon.

    I would hypothesize that there is a direct correlation between conservatism and stupidity; the more extreme the conservatism, the stupider the person.

    • Then again I could just recall that John Stuart Mill was moved to remark to the House of Commons: “What I stated was, that the Conservative party was, by the law of its constitution, necessarily the stupidest party. Now, I do not retract this assertion; but I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.” (My emphasis).

      Note that this has been true from the time of Mills, 1806 - 1873, so it's not a recent phenomenon.

      I would hypothesize that there is a direct correlation between conservatism and stupidity; the more extreme the conservatism, the stupider the person.

      I grew up in a conservative area. All of the stupidest people there were far left or far right, pretty evenly distributed. I've noticed that liberals tend to ignore really stupid liberals so they end up thinking that only conservatives can be stupid.

      You see this in politics. Dan Quayle misspeaks and that makes him an idiot. Joe Biden does the same stuff and "hey, Joe just misspeaks sometimes, ha ha ha."

    • Except the least educated areas all vote Labour.

  • by Exitar ( 809068 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @05:02AM (#48034263)

    Scotland had a chance to run away from that madness but they missed it.

  • Pandering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @06:30AM (#48034703)
    The Conservatives Party's electoral base is being undermined by UKIP and measures like this are simply pandering to voters who might be swayed by the far right rhetoric, nationalism anti-immigrant and anti-EU whargarbl that UKIP is putting out. It's popularism pure and simple. They're trying to outdo UKIP in the popularist soundbites. Expect to see Cameron standing around for photo-ops with a pint in one hand.

    It's very unlikely the Conservatives will win another term thanks to UKIP, not because UKIP stand a chance but because the first-past-the-post system ensures Labour will win a handy majority.

  • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @08:42AM (#48035961) Homepage Journal

    As an American, I'm tougher than the Europeans, and I can prove it. I can take heat up to 104 degrees. The Europeans are in trouble when it's only 40!

  • who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silfen ( 3720385 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @08:54AM (#48036135)

    Science uses the metric system universally, even in the UK and the US, and outside science, it hardly matters. In particular, while the thought of dealing with non-metric units may seem daunting to people raised on metric, to people raised on imperial units, it's just another unit; if you have inches, miles, feet, and acres, having one more length unit hardly makes a difference.

    Advocacy of the metric system seems to be more a kind of political shibboleth. Keeping non-metric units is a matter of national pride, an expression that a country is rich and powerful enough not to have to give in to international uniformity. Advocating metricization is something people use to appear more rational and more scientific, and people from countries who are already metricized like to use it to express their silent resentment at the fact that other countries have been able to maintain a larger level of independence.

  • by countach ( 534280 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @09:38AM (#48036699)

    Anybody interested in this issue should look at http://www.metric.org.uk/ [metric.org.uk]
    It gives a lot of information about how stupid the imperial system is in general, and in particular in its implementation in Britain.

  • by n6kuy ( 172098 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @10:04AM (#48037021)

    1) Those that use the Metric System; and
    2) Those that have landed a man on the Moon.

Bringing computers into the home won't change either one, but may revitalize the corner saloon.

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