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Dec. 29th, 2001 | 12:33 pm

At some point I started wondering who big california was compared to other countries. Mostly because I was wondering how other countries could have good mass transit while the US's attempts were horrid.</p>


Place

Area (square km)

California

403968

England, Scotland and Wales

229961

Japan

377787


As a side note, what am I doing living in america? I use the metric system, prefer 24 hour clocks, think that mass transit is good think, think that services needed for the common welfare shouldn't be for-profit organizations (which seems to me to be a definition of socialist), prefer a modest and efficent use of resources, think that LGBT people should have the option of legally recongized relationships, and am an atheist.

It seems almost like I'm for everything america is currently against.

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Comments {12}

Life Rebooted

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from: hopeforyou
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 12:43 pm (UTC)
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As a side note, what am I doing living in america? I use the metric system, prefer 24 hour clocks, think that mass transit is good think, think that services needed for the common welfare shouldn't be for-profit organizations (which seems to me to be a definition of socialist), prefer a modest and efficent use of resources, think that LGBT people should have the option of legally recongized relationships, and am an atheist. It seems almost like I'm for everything america is currently against.

Boy, can I relate. Yes, there's some things I definitely do not grok about the US. We were supposed to have the metric system switchover in the mid-70s, now we sort of have a partial application which is so inconsistent it irritates me. Yes, let's sell 2-Liter soda bottles, and put both grams and ounces on food containers, but just put road signs in MPH and not KM. WTF?

Clocks...I can go either way, but no-one seems to deal with UTC or GMT in addition to local. I kinda think UTC is cool, but then I am a Ham radio freak.

And I agree with the rest of what you have to say as well, being bi and poly, and being disturbed by pork barrel politics and funds channeled into salaries that should go into the programs themselves. So what is the best thing to do and why: stay and be an activist for change, or research a move elsewhere? I have yet to answer that question...

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Monument

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from: marnanel
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 02:28 pm (UTC)
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Yes, let's sell 2-Liter soda bottles, and put both grams and ounces on food containers, but just put road signs in MPH and not KM. WTF?

All these happen in the UK as well, mind. On the other hand, food won't be sold in ounces for much longer, but milk and beer are still sold in imperial pints. And 24hr clocks aren't exactly common here, except in airports and railways. (You do get some clocks, mainly alarm clocks, that show time in 24h, but people tend to talk and think in 12h clocks).

Just to say these aren't only American problems.

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Life Rebooted

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from: hopeforyou
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 02:44 pm (UTC)
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I was under the impression that the rest of the world (for some value of "rest") had integrated the metric system more successfully. While I agree there's still vestiges of the old English system, I think that in the US we have the lowest level of integration out of any place I've been or am familiar w/ their integration.

When it comes to documentaries, education in high school and college (uni), and the daily news on TV, everyone uses the old system. Heck, everyone uses the old system overall unless they lived overseas for some time.

We measure height in feet and inches (I'm 5' 7") not centimeters. We do our weights in pounds (no, I'm not saying how many Lbs. I am). And while we talk about getting 2-Liter bottles of Coca-Cola, no-one talks about getting liters of petrol or that it's 20 KMs to the next town; it's gallons of gas and little over 12 miles. Food is measured in calories, not kilojoules. Milk is the same here -- we use pints, gallons, and quarts -- though the measurement in Mls is printed on the container as well.

Here, the use of the metric system seems to be little more than a concession to visiting foreigners than it is something for Americans to adjust to using in their daily lives.

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Monument

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from: marnanel
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 02:58 pm (UTC)
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Mm, taking your points in turn:

Education: Science education is entirely metricated (as is science generally ), so you'd measure out 50ml of water or whatever, rather than two fluid ounces. (Is science generally metric in the US as well? I think the scientists here took it up much earlier than the rest of the population.) The rest of education doesn't, as far as I remember, need to use measurement to the extent that science education does.
Height: Feet and inches.
Weight: We measure the weight of humans in stones (==14 pounds), which is what we used to use pre-metric. (Things like fruit and vegetables were sold in stones as well once, but these days unpackaged goods are always sold in metric because of government regulations.)
Petrol: Gallons.
Food: Calories.

We were supposed to "go metric" in the seventies sometime, I think. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the US is less metricated than the UK is, but it's far from universal even here; many of the other countries that use metric have been doing so for generations, and I think it's likely to take two or three to get the system properly in use.

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Life Rebooted

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from: hopeforyou
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 03:11 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. Thanks for giving me a broader picture of how metrics are integrated in the UK. I'm more familiar with Australia and New Zealand's integration, which seems to be more thorough. In Oz they still use stone for personal weight on occasion, but also kilos and never pounds. Everything else you listed, they apply the metric system. I wonder why it is that some places have more successfully adopted the metric system than others? Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice. Hmmm...

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Freya

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from: moonglade
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 04:22 pm (UTC)
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I would say that both Kilo and Stones are used in the u.k.
Scales generally have both on them and people do a bit of both although I would say there was a leaning towards stones in just everyday conversation. It's not that fixed though.
Height is generally reffered to in feet and inches, except if you go to the doctors where they measure you in metric (I think they also do weight in metric there too) which kind of makes it slightly confusing for people! *giggle*

Litres are used for almost everything but things like drinks and milk are still in Pints and I think it would be somewhat hard to change those. Partly because milk is sold in glass milk bottles which are re-cycled and it would mean replacing them all, and also there is a similar situation with alchol glasses but more seriously, if you increase the size of a pint to round up to the nearest metric value then the populace will end up drinking more alchol, and if you round it down then the populace will feel ripped off and get angry. People have strong feelings about alchol for some reason.

Vinyl records are all non metric too but cd's have made a move to being reffered to in metric. (they are 5 inches though!) *Giggle*

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 03:13 pm (UTC)
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(Is science generally metric in the US as well? I think the scientists here took it up much earlier than the rest of the population.)

Most scientists went metric, scattered around the Caltech campus are some bumper stickers that read "Go Metric! US Metric association."

Though a rather amusing example of the metric vs. imperial divide, is a story I heard about the LIGO project. Their interferometer tunnels are precisely 4 kilometers long and 2 or 3 feet in diameter. ( I can't remember exact value, but it was definetly measured in feet.)

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 03:07 pm (UTC)
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Clocks...I can go either way, but no-one seems to deal with UTC or GMT in addition to local. I kinda think UTC is cool, but then I am a Ham radio freak.

At least all of my linux servers have their hardware clocks set to UTC.

And thanks to on-line services I'm getting better at converting between timezones. Though did you ever see swatch's attempt to bring a metric time back into existance? They divided the day into 1000 "beats" and they decided to use the same value worldwide instead of differing local times. They're even selling some watches that have both times on it.

stay and be an activist for change, or research a move elsewhere? I have yet to answer that question...

That's a really difficult question, the problem with the US is that unless you have access to vast resources it seems really hard to make an impact at a national level. That was one reason I was doing the comparison of size between california and other countries. Part of the exercise was to remind me that many of the US states are equivalent to entire other countries. It's far easier to have an impact in a smaller government or at least one where most of the power is at the local level.

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Monument

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from: marnanel
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 03:18 pm (UTC)
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I can go either way, but no-one seems to deal with UTC or GMT in addition to local

Oh yes-- and that's one problem we don't have here :)

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[you'll find a light, find a friend, find a way]

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from: artemii
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 01:21 pm (UTC)
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As a side note, what am I doing living in america?

i've been wondering exactly the same thing (again) this week

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Dec. 29th, 2001 03:27 pm (UTC)
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The reason I was internally comparing california to other countries was to give myself a sense of scale of the project need to build a national infrastructure. It seems like it would be much easier to build a high speed rail system that connects san diego to seattle than say, los angeles to boston. (Which actually isn't a bad idea, building high speed rail on either coast, and letting air travel continue to deal with cross country travel.)

Moreover, residents of Japan don't subsidize single-family homes the way the US does. I hate to continue beating this drum, but the single-family home subsidy,

You have mentioned that several times, the examples of the single-family subsidy that I'm familiar with are that city governments have to pick up the tab for at least some of the infrastructure of connection houses to sewer lines and roads, whose cost is more proportional to distance than density.

Are there other examples of the subsidy of single family houses?

It would seem that sprawl is dependent on a number of factors, from a love of automobiles (and the rapidly increasing road network needed to maintain it) to a desire to not live too close to ones neighbors in one's own private castle (helped in part by peoples fearing crime in the cities.)

And once you've committed to sprawl it's really hard to reverse as the population densities are too low for anything other than private vehicles to be practicle.

Which leads to one of my personal frustrations. I'd like to put up solar panels and perhaps experiment with greywater recovery and composting, yet it seems like the only way to do that is to buy my own home. So every so often I glance at some of the really old pasadena houses that were built in the late 1800's early 1900's before people had all that much stuff. The one's I've read about seemed to be between 400 and 800 square feet.

And since most people have way more stuff than wil fit in such a small house they're reasonably affordable.

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from: redtangent
date: Dec. 30th, 2001 04:42 am (UTC)
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It seems almost like I'm for everything america is currently against.

I feel like that most days.

Just as well I don't live in America.

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