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Only the USA, Liberia and Myanmar still use imperial weights and measures

February 25, 2021 — BarryK

Here in Australia, we get those TV shows from the USA, house restoration, building off the grid, etc., and I find it amusing when they talk in imperial units.

For example, they will measure a length of timber as 5 foot, 3 and 3/8 inches. The thing is, math calculation is messy when doing it in fractions. It is also messy to have non-metric conversions, for example 12 inches equals 1 foot.

Then there is ounces, which could mean a weight or a volume. Messy again.

And of course there is degrees Celsius -- so much neater to have zero degrees the freezing point of water, and 100 degrees the boiling point.

Australia converted to the metric system of measurements in the 60s, and today I wondered what countries in the world are still using imperial measurements -- got reminded of this today when publishing weights in grams in the previous blog post.

According to this link, only the USA, Liberia and Myanmar:

However, most countries that were previously part of the British Empire are still using imperial measurements here and there. There are some measurements where it was just more convenient to stay with imperial. TV screen size for example.

The UK, where the imperial measurements originated, is still using miles-per-gallon, and gallons when filling up the petrol tank.

There were apparently moves in the USA to become metric, and I wonder why it didn't happen. I was in high school here when it happened, and I recall the government mandating that things like measuring tapes had to become metric -- in other words, the Federal Government forced it to happen. In the USA, the homeland of the "rugged individual" and "free will", perhaps the government did not have sufficient authority (or cohesiveness, or motivation) to force it? or were the State governments insufficiently aligned to force it to happen? Just speculating.

EDIT 2021-02-26:
David, in the UK, commented:

We buy petrol in litres but range is mpg. We buy beer in the pub in pints but litres in cans.

John G., in the UK, clarified that petrol has been sold in litres since the 1980s:

In the UK petrol has been sold in litres, rather than gallons, ever since the 1980s! See

For fuel consumption, the UK still uses miles per gallon rather than miles per litre or even kilometres per litre. Bizarrely the EU uses an inverse measure, litres per 100 kilometres.

Yes, we also use litres per 100km here in Australia. The link sent by John G. is very interesting, it has information about Australia:

...which shows conversion milestones in 1971 and 1974. My memory, though, is of conversions happening while I was still in high school, in the late 60s.

Now I'm curious, is my memory faulty? Found this:

...ah, it started in 1966, with change from pounds, shillings and pence, to dollars and cents.

The Wikipedia also explains the situation in the USA, Canada and the UK:  

EDIT 2021-02-28:
David W. in the USA commented that the US has embraced metrication somewhat:

I'm in the States, and do recall an attempt in the mid-1970s to sell
gasoline by the liter, but it failed -- I believe because of massive
pushback by the public.

Since then it's been a series of baby steps. Goods are often labeled
with both imperial and metric measurements, in that order.

Speedometers have been labeled with miles *and* kilometers for decades.

The only metric measurement I can recall Americans having more or less
fully embraced is vehicle engine size. You basically don't hear it
referred to in cubic inches anymore, just liters. And of course,
Americans have fully embraced motorcycle engine sizes in cubic
centimeters for at least 50 years.

Yes, engine sizes in litres ("liters" in the US) is something that I noticed on those TV shows from the US where they restore old cars, or greatly enhance a car. Just looking at Channel 96 here in Perth: "Garage Squad", "Overhaulin", "Diesel Brothers" -- shows from the US. There is one from the UK, "Wheeler Dealers" -- where I picked up the info about the UK is still using miles and mpg.

Michael A. in Australia commented that the car manufacturers probably pushed back metrication attempts in the US:

You have to take into consideration that back in the 60s/70s the BIg 3 car manufacturers here were GM, Ford and Chrysler (Leyland was a drop in the bucket, plus a couple of others like Lightburn - niche car really)  - I'm sure they would have pushed back _hard_ against metric, extra cost involved in converting speedometers, fuel gauges etc.

So I believe that metric wasn't mandated for cars until 1974, and that is about the time we saw 'speed limit 35' signs disappear replaced by 60 within the red circle. I was 9 years old then! 

I had assumed that NASA, a scientific organization, would be using metric units, but did a check today and found that is not so, they use a mix of imperial and metric:

On 29 March 2010, NASA decided to avoid making its proposed Constellation rocket system metric-compliant, especially due to pressure from manufacturers; ultimately the program was discontinued. It had been predicted that it would cost US$368 million to convert to metric measurements for parts made by both NASA and external companies. Constellation would have borrowed technology from the 1970s-era Space Shuttle program, which used non-metric measurements in software and hardware.[16] NASA's non-compulsory position has contributed to at least one major mission-failure: in 1999, a contractor's use of pre-metric units caused the disintegration of NASA's $328 million Mars Climate Orbiter.[17] Despite NASA's non-compulsory policy, commercial space manufacturer SpaceX currently designs its systems (e.g. Dragon and Falcon 9) using metric units.

...that has really surprised me. Good that SpaceX is using metric units.  

EDIT 2021-03-01:
Feodor commented about the US auto industry:

GM in Detroit experimented with the metric system in the 1970th. Yes, it failed
when imperial screws, washers and nuts got mixed up with metric counter parts.
Same problem existed with the 1/2" tools for the metric system. A friend of my
parents named Karl Bohmer who lived in Windsor/Ontario worked all his life for
GM in Detroit. His job was to fix every thing that showed up broken at the end
of the assembly line. He was very happy when that metric mixing match ended. 

EDIT 2021-03-2:
Amitav commented from India:

Very interesting discussion on Metric and Imperial units! In India, everything is in metric, as we are a relatively young country. With one exception: The Aviation industry seems to still work in Imperial! I started as an engineer in the automotive industry, and my company started its first aerospace products in 2014. One big - and annoying - barrier was suddenly everything, including even nut and bolt sizes, had to be in Inches, and weird fractions :) . I would be interested to know if the Australian Aviation Industry use Metric measures?

I imagine that it would be mixed, as Australia acquires a lot of aviation (and military) hardware from the USA. Did a quick search, Found this at a technical college:

Exposure and use is given to imperial and metric units as used in the aviation industry.

After successfully completing this unit, you should be able to:
1. to describe how factors such as weight, wing area, engine power, drag and high lift devices effect aircraft performance and to apply basic estimation techniques to determine an aircraft configuration to meet a specified mission,
2. to compose gust and manoeuvre diagrams,
3. to describe the principles behind jet transport performance in an airline environment and how they affect the cost of operation,
4. to be able to use imperial units in basic engineering calculations.

It looks like the same problem as in India. Young people coming into the college course would have mostly used metric units at school. 

Have received more feedback, but calling a stop to this blog post!     

Tags: ethos

Baby It's You

February 18, 2021 — BarryK

Curious, a couple of days ago, I suddenly remembered the lass who sang a hit song, "Baby It's You", then this evening was looking at electric bike videos on YouTube, and there it was, the one-hit-wonder song from the 70s.

I was a young man then, and the female vocalist made an impression on me, for a couple of reasons, as you will see from the video: 


Here they are performing the song at other venues:

Here are the lyrics:

Baby it's you
You're here with me now but you're saying
You don't want me any more
You're holding me now but you're saying
You can't see me no no more
You whisper good-bye then cling tighter to me
I can't take no more....ooooh nooo...

Baby it's you
Who makes me feel all the way that you do
You know I cannot forget you so soon
Baby it's you.

Running your fingers through my hair
But saying you care no more
You're kissing my ear with a heart chilling breath
but you care no more
Laying beside me with legs all around me
I care no more,  oooh nooo...

Baby it's you
Who makes me do all the things that I do
You know I can't cast aside you so soon
Baby it's you.

Changing the show
Adding dramatics to help love grow
Your heart is your life
Cut it carefully with your knife
Don't leave the world
Stay right here
Don't make,  don't make anything rough.

Baby it's you
Who makes me feel all the way that you do
You know I cannot forget you so soon
Baby it's you.

Baby it's you
Who makes me do the things that I do
You know I can't cast aside you so soon

Baby it's you.
Watching the pretty flowers grow
Never again no summer

The female singer is Leslie Knauer. The "Promises" was a family band, and the two men in the above photo are her brothers. Leslie has a Facebook page:

And there is a tribute page to her: 

EDIT 2021-02-19:
I received an email informing that "Baby It's You" was written by Burt Bacharach and recorded in 1962 by The Shirelles.

But no, that is a completely different song. Different tune, different lyrics. The Beatles also sang the Burt Bacharach version. 

Tags: ethos

Western Australia is coronavirus-free

February 18, 2021 — BarryK

And has been so for several months.

We did have an outbreak a few weeks ago, when a security guard at a quarantine hotel got infected, and went to many venues while infectious. Our Premier put the entire city and outer urban areas into lockdown for 5 days, followed by another week of partial lockdown.

It seems, where there has been decisive, firm and competent leadership, the virus has been managed. I notice also, China has got it under control, hardly any new cases.

Though, to be fair to those countries that are struggling to contain it, despite severe measures, WA does have the advantage of relative isolation. We have an ocean on one side, a vast desert on the other, insulating us from the rest of the country and the world. Those countries with huge flows of people across borders, megacities, etc. are having a much tougher time.

That security guard caught the highly infectious UK-strain, and it seems that he did so just by being in the corridor outside the room of an infected person, a traveller from overseas. All people coming into WA have to go into quarantine for 2 weeks, in the case of those arriving by air, hotel quarantine is provided.

It is looking like the UK-strain is more able to infect by air-borne droplets. In the case of that security guard, it seems that just opening and closing of the door allowed droplets to get into the corridor. He wasn't wearing a mask.

The corona-free status in WA means that we can go anywhere, do anything, no masks required. However, there are precautions in place. For example, we are required to register at all premises visited. and are encouraged to install the SafeWA app:

So, if another case occurs, the authorities will be able to perform contract tracing, and find all people who came anywhere near the infectious person. Not perfect of course, as you could pass such a person on the street, but infection is more likely in enclosed quarters. 

Tags: ethos

Feedback suggestion Stevia for back pain

February 16, 2021 — BarryK

I received an email from John, via the "Contact me" button above, with an invalid reply email, so posting here instead. John posted:

Chinatown Bangkok they sell plastic bags of unprocessed dried stevia. looks like a bag of ganja.
anyhow just a leaf or two solves any back problems i may get for months.
the processed stuff i can find online may or may not work, but worth a try. not going to do you any harm as its primary use is as a sweetener for teas etc.

My reply, that bounced:

I am growing Stevia Sweet Leaf (Stevia rebaudiana), the plant that is used to make sweetener.

Only put the young plant in a couple of months ago, have already been plucking leaves and using them in salads. Adds a sweet tang to the salad.

Never knew about the back improvement! Good, will keep eating it.

I am not currently having a back problem, as always mindful to keep the posture erect with lumbar region concave, especially when sitting in a chair. However, hiking will introduce stresses that will challenge the back. Will not be using a backpack which is good, but getting in and out of a tent, crawling around in the tent, has always been a challenge. Scrambling over rocks, climbing hills, also puts unfamiliar stresses on the back.

OK, Stevia might improve the back situation, but how? What does it do? I did an online search:

...oh. The suggestion in that post is to only consume the leaves, not the processed products, however, this link suggests the opposite:

...that link mentions numbness, which would explain John's experience.

Well, I have the plant in the garden, and the leaves are nice in salads, for the taste contrast. Might continue to use it, but restrict to a few leaves each time. 

Tags: ethos

Arnold Schwarzenegger calls for unity

January 11, 2021 — BarryK

I have a policy on this blog to stay away from political and religious commentary. I will comment on topics spanning ethics, culture, morality, integrity and spirituality, as I consider those to be independent of political affiliation and religious persuasion.

Sometimes though, I am itching to post something, resisting with great effort. The debacle in the USA is one example. Maybe I should allow myself an "annual political commentary", at start of the New Year.

All right, a short post though. If I start typing about what is wrong with the USA, I would be at it for hours. Or the current trouble Australia is having with China -- we have an idiot Prime Minister, who put that last straw on the camel. Ha, ha, got to back off on that one also.

It is great that Arnie has the integrity and guts to speak the truth:

Americans, are you aware how the rest of the world sees you, and your President? This editorial in the Friday January 8, 2021 issue of the "West Australian" newspaper sums it up:


Here are some one-liners to contemplate:

We do have to ask how he got elected in the first place, why half the population of the USA voted for him.

Why do so many Americans believe unfounded conspiracy theories? It is almost a national pastime.

Why do some TV networks spread misinformation? -- hint, follow the money, look who is funding them.

Awhile back, I was reading something written by an academic in the USA, can't recall who, who said that the US political system is a "parody of democracy".

The US no longer has the "high moral ground", and arguably hasn't since WWII.

There was a journalist who wrote in a newspaper here in Australia, that he thought the US is heading toward civil war. But I think that the people of the US are better than that, even the IQ-challenged who adhere to various conspiracy theories. 

Tags: ethos

Roly 86 and brother 88 still powering on

January 02, 2021 — BarryK

I recall many years ago watching a documentary on TV about people in a remote mountain village in South America, who live to very old ages. As I recall, infant mortality was quite high, but past that, they just kept going. There were these old people 100+ still getting up early and working all day in the fields and gardens, despite having all sorts of things wrong with them. And that's the thing, they weren't stopped by pains and so on, just kept working.  They were also very peaceful.

I was reminded of that documentary recently, when I watched a rerun of an episode of Landline, that first screened in 2018, about two brothers, farmers, aged 86 and 88. Roly had this to say about other elderly farmers who he knew, who had retired:

"They get sick and tired of fishing, they come home, sit on the lounge chair watching the idiot box and they only last a few months and they're dead and six foot under,"

Roly and his brother haven't even got a computer or smart phone.

I have seen elderly family members become less mobile, and their muscles atrophy, so they become even less mobile, and spend more time in bed. So they use electric wheelchairs to get around, or give up. Another one I know, slouched all day, sitting watching TV, year after year, until her back became very curved.

I was thinking about this today, when I was swimming at a local beach. Beautiful sunshine, sparkling ocean, paths meandering through the sand dunes and limestone cliffs -- peaceful and getting plenty of exercise. Later on, did some work in the garden.

This is something that everyone can do, get exercise, and practice something mental to attain peacefulness, regardless where you live. We don't have to go into a decline as we get into late 70s and beyond.

Changing the subject, I have appended to the post about building a water diversion into my new 720 litre tank:

EDIT 2021-01-06:
David W. sent me a link to an old chap who retired at age 102:

The essential point here, is that Bob was very active, as they said, not a desk job! 

Tags: ethos

The weather is changing in South West Australia

December 08, 2020 — BarryK

Here in Western Australia, in the lower South West portion of the State, we have traditionally had long hot dry summers. However, they have gradually been becoming wetter. Not over the entire year though, averaged over the year, the weather has been becoming drier.

Today, December 8, 2020, is the first really hot day, 39 degC, here in Perth. However, the heat has been very much delayed. Right through November, it was mostly cold and wet.

I was wondering, are we going to skip summer this year? Wouldn't be surprised, given other events of 2020. Vast bushfires early in 2020, the pandemic, and on the political front being punished economically by China, for what the Chinese see as insults from our Prime Minister.

Oh dear, I don't want to go that way... I generally try to avoid political and religious commentary, despite being very tempted sometimes. So, staying with the weather...

Yes, it turns out that November has been the wettest on record, since records started 140 years ago, and the coldest since 12 years ago:

So, is this part of a long-term natural cycle, or a symptom of our messing up the environment.

Oh, another thing. I have enjoyed the pristine beaches of the South Coast of WA, very isolated, plenty of buffer zones of national forest, only Antarctica to the south. However, it turns out not quite so pristine as I thought:

There was a ship near South Africa that lost its entire load of nurdles, but apparently the ones found mostly on the South Coast are not those.

Quite depressing, whenever I read this stuff. Perhaps Mother Nature needs to come up with something better than Coronavirus to cull the human population.

Tags: ethos

Viruses can also be the good guys

May 07, 2020 — BarryK

Today I read "The Andromeda Strain", by Michael Crichton, first published in 1969, a science fiction classic. There was a movie made based on the book, and a TV mini-series -- the movie followed the plot of the book fairly closely, but the TV mini-series was very different.

The book is appropriate to read during the current pandemic. Quoting:

Most people, when they thought of bacteria, thought of diseases. Yet the fact was that only 3 percent of bacteria caused disease; the rest were either harmless or beneficial. In the human gut, for instance, there were a variety of bacteria that were helpful to the digestive process. Man needed them and relied upon them.

In fact, man lived in a sea of bacteria. They were everywhere -- on his skin, in his ears and mouth, down his lungs, in his stomach. Everything he owned, anything he touched, every breath he breathed, was drenched in bacteria. ....

And there was a reason. Both man and bacteria had gotten used to each other, had developed a kind of mutual immunity. Each adapted to the other.

And this, in turn, for a very good reason. It was a principle of biology that evolution was directed toward increased reproductive potential. A man easily killed by bacteria was poorly adapted; he didn't live long enough to reproduce.

A bacteria that killed its host was also poorly adapted. Because any parasite that kills its host is a failure. It must die when the host dies. The successful parasites were those that could live off the host without killing him.

And the most successful hosts were those that could tolerate the parasite, or even turn it to advantage, to make it work for the host.

Interesting that Mr Crichton wrote passages like that in the past tense. Also, the use of the word "man" is not so politically correct these days.

Reading this reminded me of a top health official in the Australian Government, advising us that when the Covid-19 crisis is over, we must retain the habit of frequent washing of the hands with an antiseptic hand cleaner.

This is paranoia. Actually, we need to be exposed to bacteria, and viruses, to keep our immune systems active. Perhaps also, there are other health benefits from constant exposure to bacteria and viruses.

Mr Crichton did not mention viruses, but we also have zillions of them on and in our person. From a brief look online, it seems that not much is known about their benefits, except for a few. Here is one interesting read:

I recall reading somewhere that children who are kept "too clean" will grow up to have health problems, that children left to run wild in the environment will not have. Those problems include allergies and auto-immune responses.

Let's see, there is lots of info on the Internet about this, such as:


The “hygiene hypothesis” is based on the idea that allergies are on the rise because we keep our houses—and our kids—too clean. Children need exposure to bacteria early in life to strengthen and boost their immune systems. Other recent studies have found that using antibacterial soap can increase the chance of developing allergies, while having pets, living on a farm and even spit-washing your baby’s pacifier can decrease the risk.

Just some thoughts, so that we don't get too paranoid and negative about these little guys.

EDIT 2020-05-08:
GCMartin sent me an email with a link to this video:

Reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in the countryside and ran wild. We used to swim in a nearby dam, that was murky soup -- sometimes there were dead sheep in it. And we drank water from streams and rainwater tanks. We relied on rainwater tanks for drinking, cooking and bathing -- one day dad discovered a dead possum in our water tank -- he commented, "that's why our water has such a nice sweet taste!". But we did take basic precautions, such as vaccinations, and I got a tetanus shot a couple of times, when I cut my head when hit something in that dam, and stepped on a nail.     

Tags: ethos