Re: Metric Time (was Re: Why not 13 months? (Was La Systeme Metrique))

Peter Ceresole (
Fri, 13 Oct 1995 16:20:18 +0100

In article <>, (DaveHatunen) wrote:

>Historically, it was a lot easier to split a quart into two equal
>pints, and each of those into two equal cups, etc, than it is, even
>today, for the average person to split a litre into ten equal
>decilitres, without the aid of factory produced measuring devices.

But it's not really. In thoroughly metric countries, like say France or
Germany, *everybody* knows what a litre looks and feels like, because
that's how they buy their milk; they all know what 3/4 of a litre (actually
0.7l) is like because that's the normal size of a wine bottle. Half litre
waxed cartons are on every supermarket shelf, and the half litre has become
another standard equivalent to, say, the pint. And the quarter litre is the
size of small pop bottles, and small cartons of fruit juice.

I mean that they know their metric measurements by analogy, just like
people know imperial measures. Nobody splits a quart into pints anyway, and
if they do they use a measuring glass. It's the same with metric. Half
litres and quarters are marked on every glass. Nobody has any trouble with

All this stuff about divisibility is just stuff... In practice, it's
totally irrelevant. What counts is that *real life* divisibility, say in
breaking down stock deliveries or calculating tax, is easy in metric but a
total nightmare in imperial units.

And nobody who hasn't worked in a steel stockyard breaking up batches of
rod into bundles working in pounds, hundredweights, quarters and tons, can
have the slightest idea of quite how nightmarish it is. You are speaking to
a severely traumatised person here, still surprised and delighted by the
ease of the metric system 35 years after a summer working at Leo Rapp's,
Steel Stockists.