Converting To The Metric System Starts With The Individual

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Vol 40 Issue 43

Election Day Guide

Tuesday is Election Day. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when heading to the polls:

Assistant Uses Cake To Smuggle Cake-Decorating Set To Martha Stewart

ALDERSON, WV—Authorities at Alderson Federal Prison have detained Becki Uecker, Martha Stewart's personal assistant, for smuggling a cake-decorating kit to her boss in an almond three-layer cake with lemon-zest icing. "Ms. Uecker attempted to pass a Dessert Decorator Pro to Ms. Stewart during visiting hours," corrections officer Frank Wickler said. "Although this device may be perfect for making stars, leaves, and rosettes, it's considered contraband at a correctional facility." In addition to the frosting gun, the kit included six nickel-plated tips, two tip couplers, and a storage bag.

Detroit Tourism Board's 'Hidden Detroit' Campaign Results In 24 Deaths

DETROIT—The Detroit Tourism Board is scaling back the city-sponsored "Hidden Detroit" program following the deaths of 24 tourists in the past month, city officials announced Monday. "The campaign did draw tourists to historically significant places that usually go unnoticed, like the rough-and-tumble honky-tonks of Ypsilanti and the site of the 1967 riots," tourism board director Lauren Essleman said. "But ultimately, unfolding the free 'Detroit Off The Beaten Path' maps in the middle of the Purple Gang's old turf was not a good idea." Essleman said that, in addition to the 24 tourists, the program resulted in the loss of more than 60 vehicles.

Stock Analysts Confused, Frightened By Boar Market

NEW YORK—Stock analysts on Wall Street fled in terror after being spooked by the rare but deadly boar market that reared its head at closing bell Monday. "I have no idea what to expect," stock analyst Christopher Mattson said. "This market is highly unpredictable—tusked and savage and covered with coarse, bristly hair. I didn't know if I should buy, sell, or shoot." Mattson said he hopes stocks will soon perform again like they did two weeks ago, when brokers were soothed by the graceful movements of a swan market.

Meaning Of Dream Obvious To Everyone Else

SAN FRANCISCO—Although Jennie Wick, 23, cannot make sense of the dream she had Monday evening, its meaning is clear to everyone else, sources reported. "I'm in this waiting room, and I'm screaming at this man dressed all in white who can't hear me," said Wick, who is dating and financially supporting a University of California medical student. "Then, we're at the vending machine, and every time I buy a candy bar, he grabs it. What's up with that?" Wick also failed to grasp what it meant when the man began to have sex with her best friend.

Flu Vaccine Shortage

What are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending in response to the current flu vaccine shortage?

Boss' Going-Away Party A Little Too Jubilant

AMES, IA—The Oct. 22 office going-away party for Karl Roberts, manager for the past five years at Ames Farm Products Wholesalers, Inc., was "a little too jubilant," the 38-year-old former boss reported Monday.

Republicans Urge Minorities To Get Out And Vote On Nov. 3

MIAMI, FL—With the knowledge that the minority vote will be crucial in the upcoming presidential election, Republican Party officials are urging blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities to make their presence felt at the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
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Little League Pitcher Just Getting Fucking Shelled

RED BANK, NJ—After watching the 11-year-old give up the fourth straight double that inning, sources confirmed Sunday afternoon that local Little League pitcher Dustin Bauer is getting absolutely fucking shelled out there.

Late Night

Converting To The Metric System Starts With The Individual

On her deathbed, my mother took my hand. "Theresa," she said. "When I was a girl, I thought I could change the world. But as I grew, I began to believe that the world was an intractable place. I put aside dreams and gave up my hopes. It is only now that I realize it was well within my power to change myself—and therein, by a small degree, the world."

If you want to change the world, you can't sit on your hands expecting some higher authority to do it for you. You've gotta get out there and make things happen. As my mother taught me, converting to the metric system starts with the individual.

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't use the metric system as its predominant system of weights and measures—a fact that many Americans besides me find ridiculous. But there's no point in whining that we would be better off if we switched to kilometers and hectoliters while you drive your kids to school in a car that gets 23 miles to the gallon. You're still part of the problem.

Do you think some government agency is going to magically sweep in and convert our cubic feet into cubic decimeters? People have been waiting for that to happen since the Carter Administration. Where has it gotten us? The Metric Act of 1866 may have made it legal to measure milk in liters, but down at the IGA, they're still selling it by the quart.

It's like Gandhi said: "You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees." If you truly believe that our current system handicaps American products and services in world markets, do something. Purge your bathroom of all products sold by imperial measurement and replace them with toiletries purchased from web sites based in European countries. It will cost a little more, but no one said changing the world was easy.

If you're a landlord renting an apartment by the square foot, you're part of the problem. Next time you place an ad, tout the rental space's spacious 78.965 square meters. If you're buying land, flat out refuse to purchase anything that isn't measured in hectares.

Sure, you'll meet some resistance. People will say: "We don't sell oats by the cubic meter." They'll trot out that old conservative standard, "If you want to be in the manufacturing industry, you have to buy steel by the ton." They might even claim that they don't know what a "tonne" is. Converting to the metric system is no walk in the park, but if you're serious about converting, others will recognize your commitment and join you.

Remember: The journey of a thousand kilometers starts with a single decimeter. We won the battle against spans and cubits, and we can beat the foot. And the pint and the pound. It all starts with the man or woman in the mirror.

So the next time "More Bounce To The Ounce" comes on your radio, don't just sit there snapping your fingers—call the station and demand to speak to the DJ. Insist that he play a new version of the song called "More Bounce To The 1.6 Grams," which you will record yourself in your basement and send him. Don't complain about how changes need to be made unless you're willing to make those changes yourself.

In this life, nothing good comes easy. Adopting a great system like the metric system requires sustained effort and personal sacrifice. Rest assured, you will benefit from a more practical and easy-to-understand system of measurement. And, when others see the ease with which you measure and weigh things, they'll be inspired by your example.

If you can't make the conversion to the metric system happen in your own house, how do you think it'll happen to an entire nation? Through the intercession of federal decision-makers who advocate phasing in the metric system over a several-year period? Pipe dreams. We know all too well what happened to the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, and the Savings in Construction Act of 1996.

It's like I'm always saying to members of my local AMA chapter: "You can't simply tell somebody that it makes sense to measure with a system that uses the distance from the North Pole to the equator divided into 10 million parts to constitute the meter. You have to show them. You know that the meter's measurement has become even more precise, currently defined as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second, but you can't teach the practicality of things like that. You can only lead by example."

If enough dedicated people do that, then maybe—just maybe—we can make the means by which we measure this crazy, cockamamie world that much more convenient for everyone. Now, would you care to join me?

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