Oxford University has suggested imperial measurements should be “decolonised” over links to the British Empire.

The mile, inch, yard, pound and ounce are “tied deeply to the idea of the Empire” and their presence in the curriculum could change, decolonising plans by Oxford’s maths, physics and life sciences faculty suggest.

Undergraduates have been recruited (on living wage) to conduct extensive research this summer, alongside scholars, into how Oxford’s science curricula can be made less “Eurocentric”.

Metric units being exactly as European and imperialist of course, just a different part of Europe and a different empire.

Plus, obviously, there’s not much left of the Imperial – our imperial – system left in a STEM course these days.

34 thoughts on “Gonna be fun”

  1. I still find metric units a pain, as I grew up with Imperial units as God intended. But I suppose this is just the latest excuse that the wankers have made up to get rid of them.

    I understand that in the US, people were offered some sort of democratic choice, and the shitheads were told to fuck off. So of course they’re trying to introduce them by stealth.

  2. So ahistorical! All those measures long predate any empire. The mile is 2000 Roman paces, so outdates even England.

    We might as well ban the wheel using that rationale.

  3. Metric units, don’t predate the European empires and were a deliberate attempt to rationalise. They should be considered worse.

  4. Steve across the Pond

    Yeah, back in the ’70s we were going to switch to the metric system, but that sort of fizzled out. Still, if you go into the sciences, you use the metric system. No biggie. Of course this did cause a Mars probe to make a high velocity entry.

    Where are the adults? Why isn’t anyone telling these idiots to go away. I would love to see that, and the butt hurt that follows.

    But I guess they’d rather have buildings and bridges that fall down.

  5. “Poronkusema”, loosely translated reindeer piss, is an old measure of distance a reindeer can run between piss breaks, roughly 4 miles.A reindeer can’t piss while it’s running, and running for too long without pissing can lead to a paralysis.

    This is so colonialist and racist towards the Sami people, and I apologise to them unreservedly. This measurement also illustrates peoplekind’s fascist dominance over animals, reindeers being used to pull sledges with people on them.

  6. I really am quite enjoying this. I’ve long regarded Oxford University with deep suspicion. We are, after all, talking about an institution educated an administrative class presided over the decline of a nation from being a great globe spanning power to a third rate country. Way they’re going, it’s going to something nobody will want to associated with. Having an Oxford degree will be akin to having a criminal record on your CV. Not saying this hasn’t always been the case, of course. So many crooks politicians have passed through the place.

  7. That’s an odd suggestion. In the UK people under 35 are fully metric with the exception of miles and possibly their body weight as pounds are easier to lose than kilos. Most have no idea about what yards or ounces are. The US however uses imperial measurements almost everywhere even to the extent that relatively few engineering firms use metric.

    This ironically means this in the eyes of this study it’s the US that is keeping these British colonial concepts going.

  8. The Meissen Bison

    Chester – I think you’re going the extra mile there. It’s only 1000 paces, hence Mile from Mille (= a thousand in Latin) passuum.

  9. The Romans counted one pace each time a marching soldier’s left foot struck the ground. So a mile is/was 1000 Roman paces and 2000 modern paces (according to my Latin teacher)

  10. No way. No-one has a pace that long.

    It’s 1000 double paces, as we count a pace. They counted only every second pace.

  11. The Meissen Bison

    Well it must have been a challenge doing sums with those Roman numerals so no surprise that they didn’t know how to decimate properly either.

  12. The Roman pace seems a bit like the Roman army cart wheelbase determining the track width of UK railways.
    If only we’d listened to that imperialist Brunel and gone for 7′

  13. View from the Solent

    Oxford students demonstrating their lack of education again.
    The metric system is an outstanding example of French imperialism in action. (look up its origins).
    yds, ft, ins, were derived from human body dimensions.

  14. All this talk about the Roman imperial mile is fair enough, but the measurement of the foot was modelled upon Roman general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.

    Then again, when they talk about decolonising imperialism it’s never quite clear which empire is being objected to. Maybe it’s just all of them regardless.

    That’s gonna be fun when our woke decolonisers get around to looking at the colonialist horrors of the Empire of Mali. Then again, maybe “That’s different” (as it always seems to be) when the perpetrators have above average levels of melanin in their skin.

  15. I generally prefer the metric system but, being 62, I’m pretty comfortable using imperial as well. Engineering tends to be fully metric. When the company that I worked for started selling American machines it was a major pain in the arse. Particuly the lack of standardisation of nuts and bolts. You could have two bolts that looked identical but had threads that were slightly different.

    What any of this has to do with colonialism I really don’t know. There are bound to be all kinds of leftovers from past times in every country in the world. Which side of the road you drive on might be another one.

  16. bloke in spain,

    “I really am quite enjoying this. I’ve long regarded Oxford University with deep suspicion. We are, after all, talking about an institution educated an administrative class presided over the decline of a nation from being a great globe spanning power to a third rate country.”

    The thing with Oxford, Cambridge and really, the whole university system, is that there’s a chasm between the amazing work done in the science fields and the rest of it. The rest of it is pretty sketchy and largely redundant because of the access to knowledge from Amazon and the WWW. For many subjects, you don’t have the best practitioners doing any teaching. There’s lots of novelists and filmmakers out there who never went to university, and likewise, piles of english and film graduates who never make a damn thing. The computer science courses include building a project, but few of the lecturers have ever built anything that’s been used, so how do they know what’s good? It’s why I’d rather hire a kid who has built something in their spare time that they had to make work over a graduate.

  17. If you “decolonise” the pound/inch/mile you remove the colonisers from the pound/inch/mile, leaving the pound/inch/mile remaining. By their use of the word “decolonise”, by “decolonising” India the subcontinent was removed from the face of the planet.

  18. We need a general UK wide Purge of Marxist scum.

    But we have greenfreak Marxist-owned Bluemarxist Johnson. Who’ll give you 10 years for chipping a statue but does the square root of fuck-all about far more dangerous to our culture red uni/council scum.

  19. Thank you, Jussi, for that indispensable information.
    “Poronkusema” will be on everyone’s lips to explain why Santa might be late this year. It’s a long way from the Amazon or the North Pole when the reindeer have to stop for a piss every four miles.

  20. I’m looking forward to degrees of arc being declared as cultural appropriation from the Babylonians, followed by an enforced switch to the units God intended us to use (radians).

  21. “The metric system is an outstanding example of French imperialism in action. (look up its origins).”

    Law of 1802 IIRC. Put through by Napoleon. Whilst acknowledging that the metric system was the official standard of measurement in France no Frenchman should be prosecuted for using the previous measures. Still in force. French law takes precedence over EU law. Why you can still buy things in inches, pounds & pints in France

  22. “The thing with Oxford, Cambridge and really, the whole university system, is that there’s a chasm between the amazing work done in the science fields and the rest of it.”

    Then they should be cautious about who they hang around with.
    I take the point about the STEM subjects. But then you don’t need dreaming spires & medieval architecture to do science. If anything, it’s an encumbrance. Move it out to an industrial estate where it belongs. Then if we can just borrow some B52’s off the Yanks jobs done.

  23. I’ve spent enough time overseas that I’m comfortable with the metric system. It’s rather like switching between left and right hand drive – it gets easier once you’ve gone back and forth enough times. I do notice that when I’m in Canada it’s almost as though metric and imperial are used interchangeably. Distances are commonly given in kilometers but people will refer to their height in feet and inches, and house sizes are commonly expressed in square feet rather than square meters.

  24. To be fair to the french-shortarse-who-wasn’t-really …
    Given the sheer amount of slightly differing measures/weights with the same name locally, and the fast-and-loose games played with the opportunity for Misschief by …entrepeneurs.. and the disputes it caused it isn’t that surprising he wanted a single universal set of units to measure stuff.

    As they were, the original definitions/sizes were close to what was used anyway. A kilogram is about two pounds, a meter is just over a yard. A liter is a kilogram of water, degrees Celcius the difference between slush and boiling water. And all decimal, so there was no more mucking about with 6ths, 8ths, and 12ths..

    And if you think switching between metric and imperial (of any flavour) is hard… Try getting used to the numbers in technical stuff where pi, planck’s constant, or any real constant is equated to 1 and any number/result is derived from that. And then convert to metric/any other system because you need to plug the numbers into the next set of equations..

  25. One advantage of many non-decimal systems was that common factors were whole numbers, so 12 can easily be divided into 3rds, quarters and halves. Much less relevant now than it used to be of course.

  26. “there’s not much left of the Imperial – our imperial – system left in a STEM course these days”

    I suspect that there is none, unless some kind soul translates for American exchange students. Though it’s hard to believe they’d need it.

    P.S. Is it still true that the only two countries left using Imperial units are the US and Burma?

  27. And even the Americans use a modified version of imperial units. 16 oz to the pint and a 20% smaller gallon. 2000 pounds to the ton. I’ve never heard anyone in the US express weights in 112# hundredweights.

  28. there’s a chasm between the amazing work done in the science fields and the rest of it.

    Though judging by this report that chasm will be closing soon.

    Anyway, if the Government gives Oxford any money, now would be a good time to stop and say “pull your shit together, lads. Come back when the teenagers aren’t in charge”.

  29. “ Undergraduates have been recruited (on living wage) to conduct research … into how Oxford’s science curricula can be made less “Eurocentric””

    Just cancelled my donation. If that’s how they are using their money, they will have to get by without my mite.

  30. bloke in spain,

    “I take the point about the STEM subjects. But then you don’t need dreaming spires & medieval architecture to do science. If anything, it’s an encumbrance. Move it out to an industrial estate where it belongs. Then if we can just borrow some B52’s off the Yanks jobs done.”

    It’s only about history. If you were setting up an elite university today you wouldn’t put it there because of all the protected old crap and the costs. And you can’t build on the outskirts because of their greenbelt.

    I suspect a lot of it will just became a “work anywhere” thing. I remember reading about Andrew Wiles’ work on Fermat’s Last Theorem and he was doing a lot of collaboration with Americans, French and German mathematicians via email. How much do you need to be in Oxford if you’re doing that?

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