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August 24, 2006

Get Your Kilo On: A Joey Headset Guide to the Metric System

What do Liberia, Myanmar and the United States have in common? If you guessed "rampant infant mortality" or "governance via a brutal military junta", you very nearly guessed right! Actually, the one thing all three have in common is this: They are the only nations in the world that have NOT officially adopted the metric system.

Of course, if you live in Liberia or Myanmar, you don't have the internet. Or computers. So, you're probably not reading this right now. However, if you live in the USA, you might be reading this... and wondering just what the hell this "metric system" is all about. As usual, I have all the answers you need. Get out pad and paper, I'm taking you to Metric School.

Before the invention of the metric system, there were no standard systems of measurement. Everyone measured things differently, using idiosyncratic units of measurement that nobody else comprehended. This made it rather difficult for young men to brag about the size of their genitalia.


Invented in France in the late 1700s, the metric system created a standardized system of wang comparison. It also facilitated commerce and science and other crap I don't care about. The metric system quickly spread across Europe, just like the bubonic plague... or Hitler. And, like Hitler, the metric system wasn't content to enforce its will upon only one continent. In South America, Asia, Africa, one nation after another succumbed to Metric Fever.

It really is amazing how quickly the metric system caught on, considering how COMPLICATED it is. Think about the elegant simplicity of our American system of length measurement: There are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, and 1,760 yards in a mile. 12/3/1,760. What could be simpler than that? Compare this to the erratic complexity of the metric units of length: There are 10 millimeters in a centimeter. However, there are only 10 centimeters in a decimeter. And, though it's natural to assume that there are 41 decimeters within a meter, there are actually only 10. 10/10/10. How the hell is anyone supposed to remember that?

Despite its staggering complexity, the metric system does have its advantages. For instance, 1 ounce of whiskey is equal in quantity to almost 30 milliliters of that same whiskey. However: 30 milliliters of whiskey gets you 30 times more drunk than 1 ounce of whiskey. Not only is this AWESOME, but it also explains why Ireland was so quick to embrace the metric system. Here's another example: NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal is 7 feet, 1 inches tall. He's a big guy... but not as big as Yao Ming, who stretches out to 7 feet, 6 inches. You might not think that 5 inches makes such a difference, but remember that Yao is Chinese -- and in China, they use the metric system. Once you convert his height to centimeters, it turns out Yao Ming is actually FOUR TIMES taller than Shaq. Plus, he has a much better free throw percentage.


For many years, Metric Activists have campaigned to get the United States to fully adopt the metric system. I admire their commitment to the cause, but we all know its never ever EVER going to happen. The United States of America isn't about to start accommodating other nations. Not now. Converting to the same system used by every civilized nation on earth, after all this time, would be nothing but a sign of weakness. When America flies its jets over other countries, dropping 500lb bombs on their cities, the world knows the USA MEANS BUSINESS. If we Americans started blowing people up with 226.79 kilogram bombs, no one would take us seriously. Sure, civilians would still be maimed, and buildings would still be leveled, but it just wouldn't be the same. It would be like the terrorists had already won. So let the rest of the world play around with their deci-this and milli-that. This is America, and we won't ever change our system of measurement because WE'RE #1!

Though, metrically speaking, we are #0.349.

Posted by Joey at August 24, 2006 04:08 AM

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This is brilliant

Posted by: Mugihiko at September 6, 2006 04:03 AM

Thanks... but wait until you read my analysis of the Dewey Decimal System!

Posted by: joey at September 7, 2006 05:29 PM

Can't wait.

Posted by: Mugihiko at September 8, 2006 09:03 AM

I first heard about the metric system in 1975, the year of the Metric Conversion Act. I was very eager to learn it, even going so far as to measure my penis in centimeters. I was 8 years old then and quite prepared for the resulting number. The rest of my body measurements went metric in 1983, as indicated on my website.

Posted by: Thomas Bailey at September 27, 2006 08:52 PM

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