Why The Metric System Sucks
Very often, I find myself listening to the same stupid conversation from some people who otherwise call themselves American. Usually one person complains about the fact that America doesn’t use the metric system, and then the other person or people agree. That is, until I show up.
See, I’ve made it my personal goal in life to decry the evils of the metric system and instead advance the continued use of the customary system, which I believe is not only wonderful, but far better than the metric system, a system, by the way, first adopted in France.
See, the main argument for the metric system, from its supporters, is that the conversions are all in tens. There’s 100 centimeters in a meter, and 1000 grams in a kilogram. Thus, its supporters argue, it is a more natural counting system, as you only have to remember one number, and that number is ten, which is also the basis of our decimal counting system.
To this, I say, “fine.” I understand that ten is easier for those of simple minds. But the rest of the metric system is ridiculous! Examine, for example, the measurements of each unit:
- Meter – One meter is equal to the distance that light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second.
- Kilogram – One kilogram is equal to (get this) the mass of the “international prototype of the kilogram.” [General Conference on Weights and Measures]
- Degree Celsius – One degree C is equal to the fraction of 1/273.16 “of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water.” (I don’t even understand what this one means.)
Compare this to the ease of one inch being the length of your thumb, for example, and it’s easy to see that while the metric system may have tens, the customary system has humanity. Perhaps the best illustration of this is found in measuring temperature.
Celsius, as any metric fanatic will tell you, is simple because 0 is the temperature of freezing water (at 1 atmosphere) and 100 is the temperature of water boiling (at 1 atm). Whoop-dee-doo. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been in the kitchen, thinking, “well what temperature should I set the pot on my stove so that this water will eventually boil?” Oh wait, yes I can: that’s never happened. Because that’s ridiculous. There’s no time that any normal person would ever need to know what temperature the water should be at to freeze or boil. All they need is a stove or a freezer.
Fahrenheit, on the other hand, has much more useful measurements. [At this point, someone will scream, “who can remember 32 or 212??” to which I respond, “me,” and see the paragraph above, “who cares?”] 0 is the temperature at which ice will not melt no matter how much salt you add to it. 100 is (approximately) human body temperature.
So you look at the thermometer outside and it says ‘0’ – don’t bother salting your sidewalks! You look at your oral thermometer and it says ‘98.6’ (look, they made the system a long time ago, but they were close), BAM, you’re okay! No fever here. Too bad the Celsius thermometer isn’t as easy. “36.8” just isn’t as easy to remember. I rest my case.