Dumb and dumber - weights, measures and language

 
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

News last night (20/9) in Melbourne - we are now weighing premature babies in cans of coke equivalents.
The question remains  ........ how much does a can of "coke equivalent" weight ?
Which "coke equivalent" are we talking about?

An equivalent to this kind of coke…
The sugar in that would weight a lot more than two premature babies!!!
Pressman
Are we talking UK premature babies or US premature babies?

Interestingly on the topic of units, in Italy that is a 50cL can, not 0.5L or 500mL. As the owner of an Italian bicycle (actual Italian bicycle, not Italian-branded bicycle) I can attest that their lack of respect for this stuff goes beyond just drink containers.

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  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
A half litre can JAP?

cL measurements are common across Europe. I have seen more than a few wokda bottles from Poland across Russia, Lithuania, Germany, France, Ukraine, Czech etc, limoncello from Italy, French absinthe and Greek ouzo all labelled in cL.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
A half litre can JAP?

cL measurements are common across Europe. I have seen more than a few wokda bottles from Poland across Russia, Lithuania, Germany, France, Ukraine, Czech etc, limoncello from Italy, French absinthe and Greek ouzo all labelled in cL.
Aaron
Here in OZ the common metric unit multipliers are milli (m); and kilo (k) hence mL - L  - kL or millimetre - metre - kilometre
The Europeans tend to us other multipliers like centi (c) and hecto (H)
My employers European competition describe their tanks in hL (Hecto Litres) where we here describe them in KL (Kilo Litres)
For example a 16,500 litre tanks is called 16.5 kL by us but 165 hL by the Europeans.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Here in Oz the prefix "hecto" is in common use by the Bureau of Meteorology. Barometric pressures are measured in hectopascals (hPa)
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
And hectare...
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
There is one unit of measurement in common use in Australia these days that was specifically restricted in the original instructions for the introduction of metric measurements and that was the centimetre which was restricted to clothing measurements (the rag trade).

I don't know if the rules have been changed since or whether the use of centimetre has just grown up 'outside the rules'.

Having been involved in the metric conversion so far as rail was concerned the only metric that I regularly ignore is kPa so far as tyre pressures and airbrakes are concerned where i still think in psi - but that is just me! Perhaps there is a unit of pressure that could also be measured in Coke cans or perhaps even champagne bottles.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
the only metric that I regularly ignore is kPa so far as tyre pressures and airbrakes are concerned where i still think in psi - but that is just me!
YM-Mundrabilla
Not just you, it's me too! Strangely even though Australia went metric in 1974 (IIRC) people who were not even born then still weigh babies in pounds and ounces.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
What gets me is the sheer variety of obscure imperial measurements that I've had to learn when trying to understand old documents. It's usually okay because conversion tables for weird units like chains and links are fairly easily available.

But on one occasion I had find out what on earth "acre feet" were. It turns out that despite the name, it was a measure of liquid, namely an area of one acre flooded to a depth of one foot. This used to be a moderately common measure of things like dam capacities, but when I needed to know what on earth it was, there was nothing on the internet about it, so I had to go into the state library to find out and, once I had worked that out, how to convert an acre foot into megalitres.

Then there's the inconsistency of imperial measurements, a UK ton is different to a US ton and then there's long tons and short tons. There are also several different sorts of horsepower and different sorts of ounces used to weigh different sorts of things, so there were avoirdupois ounces, troy ounces, apothecaries ounces, etc, etc.

I'm just young enough to have grown up with metrics, but it does my head in when I think that we could actually run a society, let alone travel to the moon, with such a confusing and above all, inconsistent way of measuring things as the imperial system.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Acre-feet is not a measure of liquid as such, it's an area multiplied by a length, it's simply a measure of volume.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
People weighing babies, even today, in pounds and ounces make much more sense than 'weighing' in kg and g. I have said before, at least pounds and ounces are actual measurements of weight.

I work in imperial units, typically linear measurements, and force everyday, despite being a 1980's production myself. The conversions through the imperial set of measures actually makes much more sense once you actually learn how they work.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
I work in imperial units, typically linear measurements, and force everyday...
Aaron
I've never heard an academic say that before, I guess you must work in the history department?

Yes, I know what both liquid and volume mean (anyone who finished year 10 at school does), but I was trying to write in an offhand friendly style, and for practical purposes, the measurement is the same in 99% of earthly instances.

But I'm definitely not criticising you, I make a living writing friendly and easily readable reports on complex subjects in clear English. If more engineers, economists, academics and bureaucrats did that, no one would need to hire me and I'd be on the dole queue!
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
No, my field is electronics. Everything I draw I draw in imperial measurements, legacy from US manufacture and invention, very often the defined size of componentry is specified in 'thou' and inch fractionals.

Likewise when I design an enclosure, PCB thickness is specified in inch fractional, there's AWG sizing for cabling, inch fractional for hole drilling, and I always design for clamping force in pounds too. For my field, it just makes more sense, there are others that convert and work strictly in metric, but I find I can turn out a design quicker and with less error.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
'I make a living writing friendly and easily readable reports on complex subjects in clear English. If more engineers, economists, academics and bureaucrats did that, no one would need to hire me and I'd be on the dole queue!'

No Ministerial or Government jobs for you then unless you can write friendly and easily readable reports on complex subjects in SPIN?

From what I see of engineers, economists academics and bureaucrats (plus politicians) all you need to be careful of is running out of people who can actually understand friendly and easily readable reports on complex subjects. Rolling Eyes
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
People weighing babies, even today, in pounds and ounces make much more sense than 'weighing' in kg and g. I have said before, at least pounds and ounces are actual measurements of weight.
Aaron
I'm no expert at this stuff, could you enlighten us as to how grams are not an 'actual measurement of weight'?
Wikipedia says https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gram

Edit: Found this https://www.mathsisfun.com/measure/weight-mass.html but still don't understand how this can be different for imperial measurement?
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
'I make a living writing friendly and easily readable reports on complex subjects in clear English. If more engineers, economists, academics and bureaucrats did that, no one would need to hire me and I'd be on the dole queue!'

No Ministerial or Government jobs for you then unless you can write friendly and easily readable reports on complex subjects in SPIN?

From what I see of engineers, economists academics and bureaucrats (plus politicians) all you need to be careful of is running out of people who can actually understand [i]friendly and easily readable reports on complex subjects.

YM-Mundrabilla
-----------------

Well I try to write easily understood factual reports, usually with my analysis of the issue at the end. But it's hard not to be drawn into the bubbles of engineering, economics, law, finance, etc. that specialists live in. A few pages back in this thread, I explained the four main ways of sizing a ships tonnage in plain English. But people in that industry have no idea that 99% of the educated population don't understand the huge difference between things like displacement tonnage and gross tonnage, so what industry insiders say or write is confusing or misleading to people who live outside their bubble. But I still find myself getting drawn into specialist bubbles and my drafts often use jargon terms like "penstock" or "EBITDA", before I revise them and substitute a more easily understood term like "pressure pipeline" or "basic earnings".

. . --oo0oo-- . .

Actually, my observation of most politicians of centrist tendencies is that they go into parliament with ambitions of reducing spin and making the world friendlier and more easy to understand. By contrast, pollys of the far right and the far left tend to go into parliament with the intent to impose their will on an ignorant world.

But the differences don't last long because two things happen to both centrists and non centrist ideologues within their first term in parliament. First the party whips and spin doctors get to them and beat any spark of naive idealism or dogmatic ideology out of them, because (to the whips) it's all about winning more parliamentary seats and nothing else. Secondly, the bureaucrats get to the new MPs and destroy any desire they may have to make the world a more easily understood and happier place. The result is that by their second term, most politicians sound like bureaucrats, but only say what the party whips have authorised them to say.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
'But the differences don't last long because two things happen to both centrists and non centrist ideologues within their first term in parliament. First the party whips and spin doctors get to them and beat any spark of naive idealism or dogmatic ideology out of them, because (to the whips) it's all about winning more parliamentary seats and nothing else. Secondly, the bureaucrats get to the new MPs and destroy any desire they may have to make the world a more easily understood and happier place. The result is that by their second term, most politicians sound like bureaucrats, but only say what the party whips have authorised them to say.'

Very true Bogong.

Politicians actually representing and communicating with their ordinary constituents - ha bloody ha.

As Annie said to Jim Hacker 'You're not related to Humphrey Appleby are you'? Spin when coupled with lies, as applies in so many places, becomes even worse?

There is a lifelong job for you here on RP editing many posts which are gibberish, jargon and/or gobbledegook.

Some chronic offenders need to think about grammar and spelling and explain their posts where necessary. Unfortunately, many just don't seem to understand that a wide spectrum of people are interested in what they have to say but a post becomes meaningless when it contains unexplained acronyms, local jargon or just plain incoherent English.

On the other hand, of course, it may make the poster feel important in their own little world.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Despite my intense dislike of wiki, the opening paragraph of the article you link to graham4405 correctly identifies gram as a unit measure of mass:

The gram (alternative spelling: gramme;[color=#5a3696][size=1][font=Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, 'Nimbus Sans L', Arial, 'Liberation Sans', sans-serif][1][/font][/size][/color] [color=#5a3696][size=3][font=Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, 'Nimbus Sans L', Arial, 'Liberation Sans', sans-serif]SI[/font][/size][/color] unit symbol: g) (Latin gramma, from Greek γράμμα, grámma) is a [color=#5a3696][size=3][font=Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, 'Nimbus Sans L', Arial, 'Liberation Sans', sans-serif]metric system[/font][/size][/color] [color=#5a3696][size=3][font=Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, 'Nimbus Sans L', Arial, 'Liberation Sans', sans-serif]unit[/font][/size][/color] of [color=#5a3696][size=3][font=Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, 'Nimbus Sans L', Arial, 'Liberation Sans', sans-serif]mass[/font][/size][/color].
"wiki"


Weight (actually a force) however is not mass, mass is a measure of an object's resistance to acceleration under an applied force. - Newton's second law. Acceleration per force is inverse mass.

So units like pounds (or Newtons) which are measurements of force are the correct units for weight.

Gram and kilogram are the SI units for mass, the imperial (well non SI) version being a 'slug'.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Bogong, this isn't meant to criticise you either, but if your stated aim is to write in a concise way then expressing something that is a measure of volume as a 'measure of liquid' is whilst somewhat true doesn't tell the story.

It's just a volume, it's a space in three dimensions, what is occupying (or not occupying) that space, doesn't come into it.

How would you define a cubic inch? It's a volume. Most likely known to most here as a measure of 'engine capacity', except in an engine it isn't capacity, it's the volume displaced by a (number of) moving piston(s) - which is different to the actual 'capacity'. It's most certainly not a measure of liquid in this case, maybe the free space available to a gas or vapour phase, but not liquids.

Volumes are volumes, three dimensional spaces, anything else is misleading.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
No worries Aaron, I'm actually impressed with the sort of thing you do. But I was just putting things as simply as I could because I didn't think that the precise meaning mattered for readers of this forum in the context I used it in.

In the same way that you objected to me loosely using liquid and volume interchangeably. a hydrological engineer would have kittens if I oversimplified "penstock" to simply mean "pressure pipeline" and a financial analyst would burst a blood vessel in outrage over me defining "EBITDA" as meaning "basic earnings". Every trade and profession has it's jargon and it's not always easy to snappily define what a jargon word means, but my job is to do that sort of thing without a two paragraph footnote for every definition.

When I'm posting here, I can be as flippant as I like, over simplify things (like I did a few posts back) and report facts from memory without checking them. But if someone is paying me, it's for my website or even if I'm doing something pro bono (jargon for a freebie), then I'm far more careful to make sure that I fully understand the subject, everything is clear and unambiguous, it is well written and the facts are checked from a number of different sources.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

'But the differences don't last long because two things happen to both centrists and non centrist ideologues within their first term in parliament. First the party whips and spin doctors get to them and beat any spark of naive idealism or dogmatic ideology out of them, because (to the whips) it's all about winning more parliamentary seats and nothing else. Secondly, the bureaucrats get to the new MPs and destroy any desire they may have to make the world a more easily understood and happier place. The result is that by their second term, most politicians sound like bureaucrats, but only say what the party whips have authorised them to say.'

Very true Bogong.

Politicians actually representing and communicating with their ordinary constituents - ha bloody ha.

As Annie said to Jim Hacker 'You're not related to Humphrey Appleby are you'? Spin when coupled with lies, as applies in so many places, becomes even worse?

There is a lifelong job for you here on RP editing many posts which are gibberish, jargon and/or gobbledegook.

Some chronic offenders need to think about grammar and spelling and explain their posts where necessary. Unfortunately, many just don't seem to understand that a wide spectrum of people are interested in what they have to say but a post becomes meaningless when it contains unexplained acronyms, local jargon or just plain incoherent English.

On the other hand, of course, it may make the poster feel important in their own little world.
YM-Mundrabilla
Writing any technical report clearly is a VERY VERY VERY VERY difficult task and something that few actually really understand. When I was doing the reporting of the NE line gauge conversion, it would take me something like 3 or 4 HOURS to write a 300 word post, talking with a few others that needed to write such reports clearly showed there was no other way than to take great care.

The sentiment of your last line, appears to be sadly quite common.

woodford
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Dumb and dumber is extending from weights and measures to dates:

News this morning 12/10 stated that so and so had been missing since 'Grand Final Day' (whenever that was ........)
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Dumb and dumber is extending from weights and measures to dates:

News this morning 12/10 stated that so and so had been missing since 'Grand Final Day' (whenever that was ........)
YM-Mundrabilla
Sounds like said news emanated from Victoria. They only know one grand final day... Laughing
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
At last a possibly meaningful dumb and dumber measurement in describing Turnbull's latest savings to be had on private health insurance:

Saving equates to:

'One cup of coffee each two months' !!!!!!!! ....................

ArrrrrrrrrrrrrrrGGGGGGGBhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Rolling Eyes
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Arc Infrastructure is now measuring train stopping distances in 'football fields'.
It is not clear, however, how many rhinoceroses the specific train weighs.

  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

At last a possibly meaningful dumb and dumber measurement in describing Turnbull's latest savings to be had on private health insurance:

Saving equates to:

'One cup of coffee each two months' !!!!!!!! ....................

ArrrrrrrrrrrrrrrGGGGGGGBhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Rolling Eyes
YM-Mundrabilla
You're right to be exasperated. That should really have been expressed as 3.5 cups of coffee per footy season.

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