Friday, May 24, 2013

on metric

i'm going to guess that the irony of patrick gallagher's response was not on purpose.

some background:

a petition, signed by almost 50k citizens was submitted to the site asking that the administration support national adoption of metric.

the reason standards are important is simply to make it easier for us to all work together.  i'm finding it a bit funny that an institute whose mission is to find good standards and promote them, and its director (who also serves as an undersecretary of commerce) makes an argument that resistance to unifying measurement standards is an issue of individual choice and basic freedoms.

shit... really?

well, this certainly isn't the first time a govermment agency has sold their bad idea by attaching a faux attack on freedom to it.  (ie, look dude, if you want to force feed metric on us, that means you hate fraydom. besides, i read somewhere that the french use metric. the french!) :-/

and because i find it difficult to believe this response was given with a straight face, i'll take a guess that this story is a plausible rationalization painted to mask the real reason.  it could have a lot more to do with the $10s ($100s?) of billions it will cost our economy in the short run to convert. i think to many of us, this *is* a good reason to delay.  if not that, then certainly anyone can give dozens of other more pressing national needs, no doubt, i get it.  a project like this makes more sense when the country is in a period of economic prosperity and our governments are a bit more fiscally ship shape.  if so, then just say so.  no need to fire up the bullshit machine.

also funny that mr gallagher's own response seems to be at odds a bit with the stated mission of the NIST.  its national policy is to establish [metric] as the "preferred system of weights and measures" in the US, and to provide "leadership and assistance on [metric] use and conversion".  no... his response basically says that the system you use is your individual choice, none are preferred over another, which then means that the NIST's hands-off approach (other than helping if you want help) in turn provides no "leadership" in comprehensive national adoption of a unifying standard.

i don't expect a metric US in my lifetime.  but as long as my beers are measured in pints and the nfl sticks with yards, i'll deal.

- peace... jimbarry