THE SINISTER METRIC SYSTEM
“If not in violation of your policy will not you express editorially the opinion of The FIRE ENGINEER of the proposed compulsory adoption of the metric system of measure? Would such action by Congress bring on a good or a bad reaction?”—[Excerpt from a private communication.
The effect would be worse than bad for it would not only dislocate, it would rend, tear apart the entire fabric of our commercial and social entity.
The war cost us much in money, more in morale; the cost in dollars and cents of the imposition of such a system would make war costs dwindle by comparison to the size of a dwarfed thing and morale would suffer even more ; instance—the schools—who could teach it, who could learn it? Witness a New Jersey High School graduate, a fine mathematician, who explained that he had sprained his mind trying to assimilate the metric system, that it was a foreign body in his thought, induced chronic mental indigestion and damned it with devotional fervor!!!
The dollars cost in the imposition of the metric system would be away beyond any sort of comparison and it would be cumulative. All industry of every kind soever from the household to the oldest of the professions, architecture, would be paralyzed, billions of dollars worth of machinery, patterns, plans, specifications, drawings, etc., would have to be scrapped, the old means to an end gone, a new, tangled and most unsuited and unscientific theory imposed, the confusion of minds would result and the Tower of Babel would repeat itself in gigantic proportions.
Don’t worry about the metric system, but whenever it shows its flat and sinister head set your heel upon it and bear down hard. And don’t worry either about “a compulsory law” by Congress. Congress is just one of the many agents of the Government. That Government is the People, which people hasn’t yet and will not have given to its agents or any of them any such power.
And even were such a law imposed it wouldn’t work. With the best will that ever was this people simply couldn’t adopt a gauge which cannot measure a year or a circle.
Really “Metric” is a hopeless Ass. Its whole history shows a great deal of braying, more of struggling and kicking; a diabolical, pestilential, noisome Frankenstein.
In a coming issue, maybe in May or June, you will have a careful, balanced detailed really scientific exposition of the heresy and false doctrine of the metric system.
Didn’t you read that letter, on this subject, from R. E. Fulton in the February issue of The FIRE ENGINEER? Better heed it.
A unit of measure was, perhaps, the very first fact evolved by the human brain from the native sense of proportion. It was and is a necessary means to a necessary end.
We have adjusted that means to our end. That adjustment has proceeded through so many generations that we adhere to it by instinct and we neither desire to nor will change it.
In truth we could not even if we would. Our measurements are a part of the English language. Language is the only method of conveyance of all formulas, all ideas: the dominant language of the world is English. Our system of all measurement is of us. That which it conveys is good for us and will prove good for all peoples.
We cannot suddenly and radically change it or drop it, and be reassured we will not.
In other pages you will find the report of the Committee on Resolutions National Conference on Concrete House Construction, February the 17th to 19th, in Chicago.
This report is a most excellent one, in all respects, and is preliminary to the publication of the report of Committee on Fire Prevention and Insurance of the same Conference which will appear in two parts, in the May and June issues.
The whole subject matter of these two reports is of close interest to the entire clientele of The FIRE ENGINEER and, incidentally, both of them are worth careful study as lessons in Administration—of the subject.