Wednesday, 10 October 2007

People can do nice things, and just because you ask them!

Imperial measurements - what Americans call English measurements - really wind me up. I was born in the UK in the late 1960s and spent my childhood learning metric only to find that decades later most Brits (even ones much younger than me) still use imperial measurements for most normal things and still reuse the same arguments for their continued use.

And it's hard for me to switch over too. I've become used to thinking about liquids in litres (rather than pints or gallons), because petrol is bought in litres and UHT milk cartons / wine / water / fruit juice is too. Temperature is normally metric in the UK (so that's easy). And for a long time I've thought about short distances in metric and it's only in the past decade I've started to metricize the rest of my life.

And I mean, just normal things: I'm 1.7m tall and weigh 68Kg. My church (and my old place of work) is about 2Km away. Nottingham, where my parents live is just over 100km.

The real difficulty has been reading stuff in imperial on the web. Most of the world is metric, but most of the web is US-centric which means a lot of measurements are imperial even when they're technical. I kept finding this on it's really wierd reading articles aimed at an international audience; about the latest space developments and seeing it all measured in pounds and feet, miles, farenheit and gallons. It's like - Nasa has been taken over by Torchwood!

So a few months ago I emailed one of the guys there and he wrote back to say:

“This is something you need to take up with the style of the major U.S.
syndicator of news: The Associated Press. We follow their style to be
consistent, and they dictate using only Fahrenheit.”
Yet just this week I noticed they'd changed to including metric measurements! Dave Mosher says they've updated their style guidelines, but it just goes to show that people can change their minds and be really considerate :-) !

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