Thursday, February 23, 2006


The Welsh windbag, as former Labor party leader, Neil Kinnock, was known, became one of Britain's European Commisioners. In Brussels he went native. Now he is calling for the UK to abandon miles and go for kilometres. The cost of changing all the road signs has been estimated to cost £700 million.

British roads are nowhere contiguous with European roads and anyway like most of the rest of the world we drive on the left. It was only those countries that were conquered by Boneparte (and his allies including the USA) who changed to driving on the right, and he did it out of hatred of everything British. The Chinese, Japanese, Indians and most of Africa all drive on the left. (The Swedes changed in the 1950s but they only had 117 cars on their roads then).

The Japanese have estimated that more than 50% of all useful inventions have come out of Britain - and that includes monoclonal antibodies, CT scanners and MRI scanners. The reason for this inventiveness is the Imperial system of weights and measures. Where most of the world does its mathematics by thinking in base 10, we have learned to think in base 2 (pints in a quart), 3 (feet in a yard), 4 (peck in a bushel), 6 (feet in a fathom), 7 (days in a week), 8 (pints in a gallon), 12 (pennies in a shilling), 14 (pounds in a stone), 16 (ounces in a pound), 20 (shillings in a pound), 22 (yards in a chain), 24 (hours in a day), 40 (rods in a furlong), 60 (seconds in a minute), 112 (pounds in a hundredweight), 168 (hours in a week), 1760 (yards in a mile), 2240 (pounds in a ton) and 4840 (square yards in an acre).

So when the rest of the world was doing their mundane hundreds, tens and units, we were out-thinking the world with our pounds shillings and pence.

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