Why the heck does America still use outdated measurement and date units?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by garirry, May 7, 2016.

  1. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #376
    I think many Americans prefer to write the month before the date because that's often how we would SAY what day it is. It seems much more common for me to hear someone say "May thirty-first" than to hear them say "Thirty-one May" or "The Thirty-First of May," although all three seem correct to some degree.
     
  2. nj-morris macrumors 68000

    nj-morris

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    #377
    I'm not the sort of guy who bashes the USA for everything they do, but I so agree. I hate imperial units. Also annoys me how most imperial units are the official units in the UK. You see them on road signs, food packages, the lot. I'm obsessed with unification, and metric units are really the way to go in my opinion. Here's why.

    1km=1000m
    1m=100cm
    1cm=10mm

    As opposed to:
    1 mile=1760 yards
    1 yard=3 feet
    1 foot=12 inches

    I mean, they don't even have units. And the number scheme is just so odd.
     
  3. mojolicious macrumors 68000

    mojolicious

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    #378
    So... does 'the fourth of July' stem solely from the search for a rhyme to 'do or die'?
     
  4. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

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    #379
    that would be the logical fallacy 'personal incredulity'
    ;)


    Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.46.21 AM.png

    ...
    more fallacies here:
    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com
     
  5. wallmaxx macrumors newbie

    wallmaxx

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    #380
    Try not to let differences get you upset. Our planet is full of diversity. So too are the systems people discover and develop/use.

    I was a Canadian right when Canada went metric. Then I moved to the US, and had to relearn imperial.

    The metric and imperial systems are just "different" ways to express things. Like language I suppose. I don't get people who claim one is "better" than the other.

    I have noticed the metric side tends to round off more. Just anecdote on my part though.
     
  6. samiwas macrumors 68000

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    #381
    I don't know...when I hear the word "system", it usually means to me that everything has a reason that can be figured out easily. There is no "system" to 5,280 feet being a mile, versus 36 inches to a yard or 12 inches to a foot. It's just arbitrary numbers decided at one point.

    It reminds me of two 'systems" used by companies in my line of work for labeling the lengths of cable. One company uses a system derived from the "resistor color code" in which each number has a corresponding color which mostly involves rainbow order. 1 is brown, 2 is red, 3 is orange, 4 is yellow, and so on. So, it's a system. Every cable can be labeled no matter what length it is. They also have the numbers printed on each color. Another company uses an arbitrary system where they just assigned random single colors to specific lengths of cable, and only that color is on the cable (no numbers). But other companies use the same colors for different lengths, so you have to learn some other arbitrary system depending on what company you are working with. But the even dumber part is that yellow has become industry standard for "spare", even though yellow is a color in order with others, and it's also the color for a 50' cable in the one company's definitions.

    So, by my definition, the first one is a "system"...it can be figured out for nearly any variable. The second one is just a bunch of arbitrary information piled together.
     
  7. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

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    #382
    Based on your location.
    Here in the UK it's more common to say 4th of July.
    If months are named it matters much less, but 04/07 in my laugauge is the 4th of July.
    In yours it's the 7th of April!
    So it can cause some confusion.
    But tbh there are bigger differences in how the English language is used in the US.
     
  8. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

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    #383
    heh, in the u.s as well, "4th of July" is very common. possibly said more often than "July 4th"..

    then we have a few other days which we'll refer to with number first.
    Cinco de Mayo
    Ides of March

    other than those, it's generally always said month then date.

    why? because we were taught this way so it sounds normal to us. nothing about logic or whatever. Same _exact_ reason why 21 April sounds normal to you.
     
  9. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #384
    Yeah, that's why I said "many Americans."
     
  10. cube macrumors P6

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  11. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    #386
    Here's another crazy measurement system we are stuck with in the USA:

    60 seconds = 1 minute
    60 minutes = 1 hour
    24 hours = 1 day
    7 days = 1 week
    28-31 days = 1 month
    12 months = 1 year
    52 weeks = 1 year
    365-366 days = 1 year
    8760 hours = 1 year

    So anyway, until such time that your countries switch away from Anglo-Babylonian Time to Metric Time, then I welcome you, fellow users of outdated measurements! :rolleyes:
     
  12. flat five, May 31, 2016
    Last edited: May 31, 2016

    flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

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    #387
    lol
    28-31 days = 1 month

    .
    .
    .

    --- Post Merged, May 31, 2016 ---
    i sort of wish this would happen.. at least for a little bit.
    it would make it all too obvious as to why base10 and the decimal system is very limiting for human use (for instance, we'd have 1/2 hours and, hmm.. that's about it)

    decimalize the circle too while you're at it (angles).. that'd be swell as well.


    fwiw, the number 60 (such as the clock being in base60) is the next number after 12 which is a superior highly composite number.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superior_highly_composite_number
     
  13. flat five, May 31, 2016
    Last edited: May 31, 2016

    flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

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    #388
    not necessarily arbitrary numbers though many of the reasonings behind certain distances are no longer as relevant in todays world.

    fwiw, way way back.. like roman empire times.. a mile was 5000 feet.

    somewhere in the early 4 digit centuries when farming was pretty much the most important thing on earth, the english used a measure called a furlong which had something to do with how long an acre was.. 660 feet.

    so for a while, 660 feet was such an important distance that they changed a mile to be 8 furlongs (or- 1/8 mile = 1 furlong.. 1/4mile = 2 furlongs.. etc)..
    660' * 8 = 5280'
    or 1 mile.

    nowadays, the furlong has all but vanished off the face of the earth.. except.. in horse racing :)
    (i think most english speaking countries use the furlong for this particular application)

    i wouldn't exactly say the imperial units are arbitrary as they most likely meant something to someone at some time but for all intents and purposes these days.. sure, arbitrary.

    ----

    here's a fun fact:

    the meter, the very basis of the metric system, derived it's length from one ten-millionth meridian (distance from north to south pole)

    however, this measurement turned out to be wrong (ie- a meter is not .0000001 earth meridian).

    the original length stayed similar and several other methods over the years were instilled as a means to accurately define it ranging from the distance between two lines on a platinum bar preserved in paris to 'wavelengths of the orange-red radiation of krypton86 under specific conditions" ..these days (since the 80s or so) a meter is 1/299,792,458 of the distance light travels in a vacuum in one second.

    hmmm. ok
    idk but i kind of think the foot is better for human use ..it makes a lot more sense. ;)

    (personally, i think any new units should be derived from us in our daily lives.. like, an ergonomic unit.. we are, after all, the ones who are using these things.. i said it a few times already but the mm is too small for us.. that's what happens when you're trying to base a system off some thing such as the diameter of the earth instead of considering how the thing is going to be used in the real world.. a modern unit would do exactly this)

    idk, any goofy story you're going to find behind the origins of imperial, you're also going to find behind the origins of metric.. calling imperial units arbitrary, well, yeah.. maybe.. but metric too.

    these are BOTH outdated systems based off naught too practical for modern life .. pick your poison.
     
  14. samiwas macrumors 68000

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    #389
    I think you're missing much of my point. I'm not saying that there weren't reasons behind certain different measurements. That's irrelevant, actually. That's like saying "Well, a smoot is 67 inches, so it's logical to use it". I'm saying that in imperial, they don't really relate to each other in any meaningful way. From inch to foot is 1:12. From foot to yard is 1:3. From foot to mile is 1:5,280. From yard to mile is 1:1,740. Compare that to mm to cm is 1:10, cm to m is 1:100, m to km is 1:1000. And that's just length...volume and weight is even more nuts. Yes, any number in the world can be calculated to any other unit..that doesn't make them logical parts of a system.

    But look, I get it. As far as you're concerned, as long as a measurement can be calculated, then it's worthwhile. I mean, if that works for you, then great.
     
  15. flat five, May 31, 2016
    Last edited: May 31, 2016

    flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

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    #390
    i hear you.. i mean, i'm pretty convinced i use both of these systems more than anybody else in this thread.. no need to point out the downfalls to me. (what's strange however is not one person in this thread has pointed out any downfalls of the metric system.. if they were actually using the thing instead of looking at this:

    backgrounds-1423864499-LANG_Metric_a3.png

    ...then they'd certainly be pointing out the downfalls.



    i'm first on board the bus of the u.s (and others) making the change.
    let's switch.
    #375
    i'll start right this minute (nah.. already have ;) )

    -----
    but hey..
    you want to know what unit is equal to 1000 feet?
    1000 feet.
     
  16. nj-morris macrumors 68000

    nj-morris

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    #391
    It's still unified though, and it corresponds with the cycles of the Earth, which contribute to our lives. It so makes sense.
     
  17. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

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    #392
    if you're saying time&date is a unified system and imperial measuring&weight is not, then, i think you're going to have to explain the definition of unified.. what is the difference regarding 'unification' are you attempting to point out?

    in certain regards, time&date could be viewed as being a lot more wacky than imperial. (in a few regards, much more wacky)

    like- leap years? sometimes a year is this long and sometimes a year is that long? (even though the earth isn't slowing down its orbit every 4th year)
    i don't think you're going to find similar occurring in imperial (or metric)

    --

    are you sure the case isn't more like:
    "i was taught this method for time&date and i understand it, therefore it makes sense to me so it's a good system."

    "i wasn't taught the methods of imperial and i don't understand them, therefore it makes no sense to me so it's not a good system"

    ?
     
  18. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #393
    Such a system exists, although it hasn't really caught on as far as I'm aware.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gradian
     
  19. nj-morris macrumors 68000

    nj-morris

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    #394
    I can't say I know for sure, but as far as I know, the system for measuring time is pretty much internationally used. I won't say that it's not wacky, but there isn't currently a system that makes more sense for time.

    The Earth goes around the Sun once every 365.25 days (non-sidereal). Therefore it makes sense to put leap years where appropriate in order to avoid the year from going off course. It wouldn't be appropriate to start they year at 6AM would it? So yes, it does make sense

    Of course not. I am familiar with the imperial system. But as I say, I'm obsessed with unification, and it makes much more sense to go with metric units.
     
  20. wallmaxx macrumors newbie

    wallmaxx

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    #395

    You appear to lean toward embracing what you feel is a "simple system" as it relates to your understanding. That's cool. But as humans have many different languages, we also describe/define our world in different terms.

    These systems are in place and exist. I haven't spent too much time thinking about why things are the way they are, typically because I am under a deadline to produce.

    I tend to not support efforts to align things under a unifying methodology because it's often at the cost of potential future innovation. Once everyone is operating under the same system, the ideas of finding other, better, systems can become lost.
     
  21. wallmaxx macrumors newbie

    wallmaxx

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    #396

    365.25 is rounded off.

    Rounding things off defeats the "my" system is better argument. In fact, everything we do is an approximation. Metric is just base 10 so it feels easy to most base 10 folks.

    It will be cool to meet aliens one day and learn how they define the universe to their understanding.
     
  22. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

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    #397
    neat. I've never even heard of that setup before. thnx for the link
     
  23. mildocjr macrumors 65816

    #398
    The US military uses the metric system for everything except temperature, their date units are YYYY/MM/DD. Most business in America use YYYY/MM/DD.

    But to answer your question, the reason why we don't completely convert is because we don't care that much to be compatible with the rest of the world. We are taught the Imperial system (that we brought from Europe when America was founded) in elementary, middle, and high school. It continues on in college and no one is going to force the citizens to go on the Metric system in consumer facing products.

    Some parents aren't willing to have their children learn the Metric system because they don't know the metric system and aren't willing to learn it when their kid asks them what a kilometer is.

    Our entire road infrastructure and all published maps are in Imperial units so all road signs and markers would have to be replaced. Americans aren't willing to spend their tax dollars on changing a system that isn't broken for them.

    Just as it is hard for people visiting America, it is just as hard for Americans to adjust to other countries. Yes I get the metric system 1, 10, 100, 1000. I understand your point on why it would be better than 4, 8 , 16, 32 oz. or 1, 12, 36 inches and 5280 feet in a mile, but as much effort as people had to put into learning the imperial system they are so worn out on unit conversion that they don't care if it's that simple.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 1, 2016 ---
    In reality it would be absolutely none, and would probably cost businesses more money since manufacturing companies already use the Imperial system, they would spend a lot of money converting all of their existing in-house programs to the metric system.

    I can't say how much it would cost, but I can tell you at some of the companies I've worked for, they do all of their trucking in miles not kilometers, products are made in Fahrenheit, and some manufacturing workers are high school dropouts who only notice when things change and do not know how to react when the numbers aren't showing up correctly, or continue doing what they were used to because someone failed to tell them it changed. 150 Fahrenheit vs 150 Celsius can cost a company upwards of $50,000 before the problem is found and corrected. Also changing 3,000 programs of in-house COBOL or 1.5M lines of code in general will cost a company working hours to convert it all over.

    More appropriately is how much are we saving by not going to the metric system. It has no real value other than being on the same page as the rest of the world and the companies that deal in world manufacturing are already using the Metric system.
     
  24. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #399
    For me (not speaking for anybody else), the ability to convert sub-units by multiples of 10 has had its usefulness GROSSLY overstated. People seem overly enamored with a feature that, to me, really isn't much use at all.

    Don't believe me? Here are some examples:

    Here in the US, distances between cities is typically measured in miles. People will never measure these distances in feet, nor will they ever need to convert miles to feet. Nobody really cares to know how many feet it is from Chicago to Memphis; that simply isn't useful. Likewise, distances that are measured in feet generally are never measured in miles. Nobody talks about the size of a bedroom, or the dimensions of a basketball court, or the width of a parking space in miles.

    We measure our weight in pounds. Nobody is going to ask how many ounces you weigh, nor will they ask how many tons. The conversion factors don't really come into play here.

    The same can be said of the metric system, whether you want to believe it or not. You might measure your height in centimeters, but I've never seen or heard a single person give their height - or ask for another's - in hectometers. Nobody is going to ask, and you will never have a real-life reason to know, the distance from Munich to Vienna in centimeters.

    When I was an engineering undergraduate we were taught both the Imperial and SI systems extensively (with the exception of electrical units, which we learned exclusively in SI units). Aside from the SI unit of mass being the kilogram, we only ever used base units for measurements, regardless of how large or small they were (meaning, we would measure the distance to the nearest star in meters, and we would measure the diameter of an atom in meters as well). Scientific notation was a must here. But there was no real need to convert one unit to another.
     
  25. mildocjr macrumors 65816

    #400
    Another thing to note is numbering systems were mostly screwed up by the roman and british empire. For instance the Roman emperor Augustus took one day from February and added that to August because August was a month that was named after him. Talk about American's being off. Julius Caesar started the leap year so we have fluctuating days in a year.
     

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