Sweet shop has a weighty problem!

Scaling new lows : Jean McDermott

Refusal : Jean McDermott refuses to sell sweets in metric measures.

SWEET toothed folk could be without a traditional treat -as trading standards officers 'weigh in' on a Stalybridge shopkeeper.
Jean McDermott has been serving loose confectionery for the past 18 years using pounds and ounces. But under the 1994 Metrication Regulation (of the Weights and Measures Act 1955) shops such as E&J McDermott in Market Street, Stalybridge, must he able to serve in kilos and grams.

And Jean says converting from her imperial scales to metric will cost at least £180. "Why should we change over?" protested Jean. "We've not agreed to it, we've not even had a say and we're certainly not get any contributions from the government for the new scales. "The cost of new scales would take such a long time to make up, I'll just have to stop selling the sweets."

Jean adds nobody has asked her to weigh goods in metric units, and even children, who are taught to use the European system at school, prefer their sugared goodies in 'quarters'. But one trading standards officer said they don't want to make life difficult for business owners.

"The last thing we want to do is prosecute, we're offering as much advice as we can," said senior trading standards officer, John Davies.
"We realise it's difficult for smaller shops to afford the changes and they would benefit from some kind of grant, but the pubs changed to the metric system in 1996 and there was no help for them.

"The alternative for Mrs McDermott would be to sell prepacked goods" Mr Davies says Tameside Scales (on 0161 3396501) can adjust a 'fan scale' to have metric measures for £75. Currently traders must indicate the price food using metric measures, but until 2009 they can also display prices using imperial measures.
The Advertiser August 31 2000

Fishmonger joins the metric rebels

Something fishy with the measuring system
Scales of justice: Peter Ellis has gone back to using imperial weights

HAVING spent thousands of pounds on new equipment to comply with new regulations enforcing the EU's compulsory metrication directives, Peter Ellis, whose Network Seafood in Newhaven, East Sussex, supplies fish to hundreds of hotels, restaurants and catering firms, was horrified to see business slumping.

His customers couldn't understand that salmon now being sold by the kilogram - more than 2lb - hadn't actually doubled in price. Dozens told Mr Ellis that they hated the new metric system, so he has now told Keith Pogson, head of East Sussex trading standards, that, to save his business, he has gone back to selling his fish in pounds and ounces.
Mint Imperial for suckers
Balancing act : No kilos

His customers are delighted. Terry Shurman, landlord of the Greyhound pub at Keymer, says: "Mr Ellis is right. To take English fish out of the English Channel and weigh them out in kilograms is outrageous. Those officials are not only despots, they're tosspots." Mike Bingham, a caterer, says: "We're all fed up with Brussels bureaucrats pushing things down our throats. Every day someone dredges up something else."

Last Wednesday Dave Stephens, the Essex butcher in the forefront of the growing campaign against metrication, led a delegation to the Department of Trade and Industry, accompanied by the UK Independence Party MEP Nigel Farage, challenging officials to allow a prosecution to test the law.

He has had thousands of messages of support, including one from the comedian Max Bygraves, who wrote: "Count me in to be your cellmate in prison." But the officials fear a test case because of legal opinions suggesting that, for procedural reasons, the UK regulations might be ruled illegal.
The Sunday Telegraph March 12 2000

READERS Martin and Stephanie Burton had a disagreement about measurements when they were decorating their house. They wanted to put up a dado rail in their living room, so Stephanie measured up the space in feet and inches. But Martin pointed out that even in Britain "everything comes in metric these days", so she measured it all again in centimetres. When Stephanie got to the builder's merchant, she asked for the length of wood and was promptly asked: "What's that in feet and inches?" Luckily there was a calculator in the office, but they handed it to Stephanie because she was the only one who knew that 1 inch equals approximately 2.5 centimetres. Hoping she'd got the right amount of wood, she took it to the checkout, paid, and took the bill. It read: "Thank you for your custom. 2 x 12ft dado rails @ £1.72 per metre. Please call again." [New Scientist 28 June 2002]

My comment : I would like to ask Mr Ellis and Mrs McDermott how many fingers they think they have on each hand. Metric is much more sensible than imperial measure. Just because a load of old ostriches stick their heads in the sand and try and hang on to what they know rather than embracing change (which is typical of conservative Britain),doesn't mean that sooner or later metric will inevitably come to rule (so to speak),and so it should. The metric system as it is being based on powers of ten,makes kilometres more sense than the imperial system.

Even a child could figure it out
Decimal pointless? Recall the confusion that greeted the new monetary system in 1971.

The measurements in physics a streamlined by using metric,and currently even scientists are wandering between the two systems when speaking. Use of two measuring systems increases the chance of error,and no doubt clock turners like the duo above would be the first to complain if some accident occurred because of an error brought on by mixing units of measure in some critical instance.

The reaction of the two people here is typical of Britons who refuse to accommodate change,even when it makes sense to do so,and become xenophobic about the origins of metrication and patriotic about their own idiotic system. This reaction no doubt is because of their inability to count in tens,something which should be second nature to everyone,and having to accommodate something new. This is similar to the averse reaction to technology encountered amongst those who have no clue how it works and become frustrated at their own inadequacy.

When the currency was decimalised there was the same attempt to kick and scream and make a fuss because those with limited brain matter couldn't cope with having to change how they calculated. This is indicative of the mentality people have towards mathematics.They see it as a necessary evil,rather than the beautiful and powerful thing that it is.

It's no wonder that in a country having such basic problems with maths skills we're prone to believe mystical ideas and hanging on to old systems of calculation.Mr Shurman might ask himself who in fact is the "tosspot" since the officials are only trying to institute a sensible system and get rid of an antiquated one. Such tradespeople are only showing their "math phobia" and indicating their fundamental ignorance. If someone offered two choices,one of putting your head in the oven and the other of using an oven for it's given purpose,then why would any sane person choose putting their head in the oven, just because a load of other people do it?

Staying with imperial measure is for post-war clock turners who stick their feet in the mud,out of some misplaced patriotism.Imperial measure is anachronistic and irrelevant to today's world. The modern metric weights are defined with atomic precision.Does anyone know where the defining yard exists,as we do the metre and kilogramme? I bet tradespeople do not know,and much less do they care.For their accuracy need only be measured with limited precision. Modern engineering techniques required a modern system of weights and measures,and Imperial - isn't it.

The king's thumb and more imperial fun

  • Congratulations Britain. We have gained the right to go back to using the imperial system (Metro, Fri). We are now free to use measurements introduced in medieval times and based on a wide variety of absurd standards - the size of the king's thumb or foot and the weight of a stone. We can now retreat into shells while the rest of the world gazes at us in bewilderment as we talk of ounces, gallons and fathoms. Forget the 21st century - welcome to the Middle Ages. M Jamil, Middlesex
  • I'm 22 years old and prefer imperial for some things, metric for others. Where's the harm in dual marking products? That way, everybody wins. Bryan Parry, Middlesex
  • S Rossi said he or she did not have problems using imperial measures as a child (Metro, Fri). But, as a child, they obviously did not do any complex calculations. Metric is immensely simpler. J Martinez, London SE10
  • If you're baking a cake, measures of four; six and eight ounces seem more meaningful than 100, 150 and 200 grams. When we move to body weight, stating it in stones just seems to give the right sort of numbers. Duncan Elliot, Hampshire
  • Will British football referees continue to pace out ten yards, while their European counterparts have to work out how many steps equals 9.15 metres? Roland Finch, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • How far is a yard? Matt Squirrell, London SE8
    [Metro Sep17,2007]
  • YARD SCHTICK: In response to Matt Squirrel's question: 'How far is a yard?' (Metro, Mon), the distance depends on whether you are in the front or back of a house. Amos Kwateng, Nottingham
    [Metro Sep18,2007]

My comment : Let's answer some questions - what is wrong with dual marking products? Supposing someone uses the wrong measurement for taking medicine? Supposing an accurate measurement is needed on an aircraft ballbearing and the wong measurement is used - I guess Mr Parry will be the one in the queue waiting to sue his doctor or the airline because they were stupid enough to put TWO measurements on a product when only one was needed. Not to mention all the extra cost and confusion involved.What happened to the Burton's (above) is indication enough of why we do not need TWO measuring systems.
Mr Martinez and Mr Jamil are exactly correct - today's science needs Metric and the old has-beens who prefer imperial are only hanging onto such things out of misplaced patriotism and fear of learning something new. To Mr Elliot the "meaningfullness" of the measures is all in the mind - if you have used metric - 250g of flour is just as meaningful as 4 ounces - meaning is a personal subjective response - measures are an objective discernment of actuality - the "right sort of numbers" are those that accurately reflect what is in front of someone - and metric does this better than imperial -which is why all scientific notation is metric - only silly old Blighty hangs onto imperial along with its US cousins - as Mr Jamil says - we are stuck in the medieval times over this - let's move into the 21st century with the correct mensuration system. As Mr Kwateng points out - a yard is something where you keep your yardbrush - we do not have 12 fingers - we have 10 - why is it so hard for Britons to use tens?
Why not look at the LENGTHS to which science goes to provide accuracy and then you will see just how defunct the imperial system is.





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