Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Units of Measure

It is tangent Tuesday and I am going off on one. Since I am at the airport awaiting my flight, I thought this would be a great chance to hit a pet peeve. And that is the newest and seriously goofy unit of measure in use by the media - the football field.

The oil spill in the Gulf has prompted all manner of measurements to be reported. And somehow almost all of them come down to the number of football fields involved. My favorite has to be CNN's reporting that the spill was "over 50 football fields deep." That would be around one mile. As if a mile was not an adequately descriptive term.

We have been told that the failed containment tower is 2 to 3 football fields away from the gushing well on the floor of the Gulf. Because 650 meters was to much to explain. The amount of boom laid out has been described in football field lengths.

It is not just the spill that has fallen prey to this newest assumption of American's stupidity by the media. Literally everything that requires a description of distance now is expressed in football fields. I understand that we rejected the metric system in favor of our feet and inches. However, we have apparently now come to the point of rejecting that in favor of the football field as the penultimate unit of measure.

One of my favorites was an early description of the oil slick as 10 football fields wide. Is that the length or width of the field. Are we including the end zones?

Not to be topped in efforts to use football measurements, The Weather Channel reported that the debris from the flooding in Tennessee and Kentucky would fill Dallas Cowboy Stadium 542 times. This is past silly. Is that a new measure of volume?

Why does this bother me? Well, it is rather obvious. The media treats Americans as incapable of using a simple ruler. They think we are too addled to understand the measurements we grew up with.

Time to catch my flight. I am just over 2 first downs from the gate.


  1. I like the comparing units of measure...

    Is a flying fuck a bigger unit of apathy than a rat's ass?

    Are clams more happy than cows are content?

    Which is a bigger unit of cuteness... a button or a dickens?

  2. Here in the UK we stick by that most useless unit of measure: Wales. Useless because it means very little to anyone given that most people think Wales is a lot larger than it is due to the most common projection of the globe (which doesn't preserve land areas).

    ah well...

    Other favourites include the London bus (used for weight, height and length but never volume which would make more sense) and our football pitches.

  3. A shitload is twice the size of an assload.

    An assload is twice the size of a buttload.

    Data is best measured in Library of Congresses.

  4. My question is always, "What kind of football?"

    American: 100 yard field.

    Canadian: 110 yards.

    Rugby Union: 100 metres.

    Soccer: 105 metres.

    Rugby league: 112-122 metres.

    Gaelic football: 130-145 metres.

    Australian rules: No set size.