[lug] OT: Metric vs English

Rob Nagler nagler at bivio.net
Sun Nov 11 20:57:48 MST 2001

> periods.  My personal opinion is that, *in ordinary life*, the metric
> system offers nothing whatsoever as an advantage over a time-wrought,
> practical system.  Temperature scale is a good example.

It's interesting.  I found some things in Europe make lots of sense.

For example, you buy food in terms of 100g units.  It's easy to figure
out how much 500g, 1kg, etc. is going to cost.  If I buy a 1/4 pound
of cheese, I can guess the price.  At 200g, it is usually more clear.
100g, in other words, is a more practical unit for most foods
individuals consume.

In the US, we buy gasoline in tenths of a gallon.  Quick how many
ounces in 3/10 of a gallon?

While the cost of switching is high, we switch things all the time.
We went from four prong plugs to RJ11.  We went from two prong to
three prong plugs.  We went from 120v to 110v to normalize our power
grids with the rest of North America.  There are a few other
good examples.

In Switzerland, they introduced a new type of phone plug in '87, I
believe.  It wasn't RJ11.  It wasn't German.  It was, well, Swiss!
It's very unique.  Naturally, you have to have a converter from the
TT87 (Swiss) to RJ11 plugs, because all modems, faxes, etc. offer RJ11
jacks.  If you connect a flat cable between the RJ11 and the TT87, the
pairs are either on the left or the right of the RJ11.  No good.  So
these cables have to be manufactured specially to shift the pairs to
the middle on the RJ11.  There, however, Swiss phones with RJ11 jacks
which accept the pair on the first two pins.  This means you have two
cables: telephone and modem.  They look completely the same.  It would
be quite funny, if you didn't have to debug which was which every
other day...  If you ask a Swiss why they introduced this crazy
system, they answer "Wirtschaftsankurbeln" which literally means

Conversions happen, but for the unlikeliest of reasons.  As soon as
IBM converts some of its big MVS apps to Linux, you'll see lots of
CIOs switching.  The killer app would be to port VM (not the mail
program ;-) to Linux.


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