### The Imperial System's Weirder Than You Think

Everyone *loves* attacking the Imperial system. All the cool kids do
it:It’s just *so terrible*. And you know what? I think I’ll
pile on and give the horse a few kicks, too.

When complaining/attacking the Imperial system, peoples’ analyses usually end after looking at this:

unit | relation to previous |
---|---|

inch | |

foot | 12 inches |

yard | 3 feet |

mile | 240 yards |

In their defense, this is definitely grounds enough to attack the Imperial system for. I mean, 12–3–240? The intervals are so ugly, so inconsistent! But I’d like to go a little farther than that. Lets peek behind the curtain, shall we?

I was writing some conversion functions for a calculator program I use (`bc`

)
for the Imperial system. I wanted to be able to write something simple for conversions,
like: `ft2in(10)`

or `in2cm(123)`

, to convert feet to inches, or inches to centimetres,
etc, etc. I don’t know this stuff by heart (only nerds do),
so I checked the Imperial system Wikipedia page
for reference. Oh, what a shock I was in for.

It turns out the Imperial system is a lot more comprehensive than just the four units
from before. Here’s the Imperial system’s *final form*:

unit | relation to previous |
---|---|

thou | |

inch | 100 thous |

foot | 12 inches |

yard | 3 feet |

chain | 22 yards |

furlough | 10 chains |

mile | 8 furloughs |

league | 3 miles |

You know how people that use Imperial will generally use milimetres as the unit smaller
than inches? Hell, every ruler in the US uses inches and milimetres, even. Well, it turns
out there is no need to mix two different systems: Indeed, a smaller Imperial unit exists.
The “thou”. The *thou*. And you know what? It’s actually pretty nice. 100 thous make up
an inch– what a clean interval!

Oh, and chains? Furloughs? Leagues? Yup, those are all things, too– admittedly less useful, but existent none the less.

All of these units are pretty archaic, for the most part, it looks like they mostly fell out of use in the 1900s– even countries using Imperial officially don’t use them anymore. But they’re still a part of the system, even if they aren’t functionally or legally– so I can still justifiably ridicule them. :)

So, the intervals *really* are: 100–12–3–22–10–8–3. It looks like random bullocks to you
or I, yea, but I wanted to be sure– you know, for the sake of intellectual honesty and all
that. I put my top chemists and mathematicians to work.

I stared at them lovingly as they crunched numbers, exchanged fluids in flasks with fluids in other flasks (sometimes sodium chlorate, other times coffee), and tore hair out of their scalps.

By the time the bell struck midnight, a near unanimous conclusion was reached: “Boss, it’s fucked. Please, can we go home now?”

There was one guy, though, that insisted that there *was* a logic to it. He gestured
wildly at his white-board littered with Post-it notes and incomprehensible scrawls in blue
marker. He claimed that, apparently, if you took the square root of the total number of
units, returned it’s tangent, then found it’s base–17 root, then took it to the power of your
mother’s phone-number, you’d get the interval for yard to chain. It was an entirely different
process for each interval.

So, indeed, there is very little logic to it. It’s *basically* fucking random. It’s disgusting.

I’ll admit, these additional units would actually be useful *if we had to use Imperial*. It’s
like asking if you’d rather eat a dead rat or a dead dog– Imperial without these units, or Imperial
with? There’s only one option that’s slightly better than the other.

If those are the only options, I guess I’ll eat the dog…