Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 OCT 10: Kill-o-Meter

Hey, look at that - today is 10-10-10. I assume GPB Radio and Television will celebrate by presenting a "three ten-ors" marathon....

Are you doing anything special to mark 10-10-10? Some people are celebrating the Ten Commandments. A Phenix City church sign notes Southern Baptists are marking World Hunger Sunday. I have nothing against those things. But I've decided to celebrate something else, which has plenty of tens - and no, it's NOT in Tennessee.

Listen to Geico's radio commercials, and you'll learn 10 October is National Metric Day. It's only logical, because the measuring system is based on multiples of ten. One meter consists of ten centimeters. A kilogram has 1,000 grams. And 100 kilograms of the wrong substance could mean ten years in prison.

I didn't realize until Saturday night that a U.S. Metric Association has been active in this country for 94 years - lobbying for our measurements to change to the metric system. But that effort has brought plenty of skeptics. They warn if you give the changers a millimeter, they'll take a kilometer -- or something like that.

My generation was supposed to be the one which would make the metric system commonplace in the U.S. For instance, the size of soda bottles changed from half-gallons to two liters. But sadly, those extra three-and-a-half ounces per bottle have produced a national epidemic of obesity.

I worked during college at a television station which gave the temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. An annoyed older woman called the newsroom, complained to me about it and promised to call back later with a temperature conversion "pop quiz." She never called back -- perhaps suspecting our staff had her outnumbered.

But have you noticed Celsius temperatures aren't displayed anywhere in Columbus? The metric movement seems to have fizzled in recent years. The only time it seems to come out is for 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs. If you "10K" sprayed on a street in the Historic District right now, it is NOT a tip for finding cocaine.

I don't recall even seeing metric references on my visits to Fort Benning. Well, unless you consider signs referring to "1800 hours" metric....

This is a case where the old guard has prevailed, and the metric system has never taken hold in the U.S. I vaguely remember people saying years ago "metrication" would turn our country Socialist or Communist. But I don't recall those people explaining how the use of inches and gallons liberated eastern Europe in 1989.

There can be psychological advantages to metric measurements. I've mentioned here before the one time I drove faster than "100" on the highway - 105 kilometers per hour in the Netherlands and Germany, which sounds more impressive than 65 miles per hour.

Our record-hot summer in Columbus also could have used a return to metric measurements. We've had 108 days of temperatures hitting at least 90 degrees F. this year. That computes to 32 degrees Celsius. Doesn't that feel cooler already?

It might not take much to change the old-school resistance, and push the metric system forward. Imagine what could happen if the Miller brewery in Albany switched to half-liter bottles of beer. That's 16.9 ounces - and if the price stayed the same, Miller lovers would boast to their Bud-dies about how their beer makes them smarter.

And how about making football fields 100 meters long between the goal lines, instead of 100 yards? The difference computes to nine extra yards - and would make Isaiah Crowell's running for Carver High School even more record-breaking.

I'll stop the lobbying here, thank you for your (ahem) at-TEN-tion, and move on to some weekend news headlines:

+ Columbus Police reported a man was mugged on the Riverwalk at Fifth Street. Trouble was, WLTZ's report on the attack was filled with video from Seventh Street ABOVE the Riverwalk. Maybe now people will understand why other TV newscasts settle for using Google Maps....

(You may recall a Friday e-mail complained the use of Google Maps in television news was "cheap." But I seriously doubt WTVM gets to use that feature for free -- as much as I doubt Google was the party which misspelled "Capitol" on a couple of maps of Washington.)

+ Law officers shut down several Harris County convenience stores, in a crackdown on illegal gambling devices. I'm not sure why they didn't wait until today - and use 10-10-10 to seize machines showing 7-7-7.

+ Columbus Technical College opened the Robert Wright Health Sciences Center. Not only is there a nice new building, but a fancy entrance sign along River Road. It's not an electronic sign, though - perhaps to ensure visitors have no problems with their pacemakers.

+ Auburn High School rallied from behind to hand Phenix City Central its first loss 20-14. Things might have been different, had the Phenix City Council and School Board sat on the same side of the field....

+ Tuskegee topped Morehouse in their annual South Commons football classic 31-15. But as the crowd drifted to their cars well after dark, a 15-year-old was hit by a car in my neighborhood. A witness told me it happened in a section of First Avenue with no sidewalk. Yet both sides DO have sidewalks now -- and walking on the grass only means residents have less grass to mow.

+ South Carolina upset top-ranked Alabama 35-21. Steve Spurrier's team becomes this blog's unofficial national champion, and appears to be in line to win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division - well, as long as they don't get too Cocky.

+ Auburn edged Kentucky on a last-second field goal 37-34. Then Auburn radio announcer Rod Bramblett dared to compare the Tigers to the legendary race horse Secretariat, with a heart two-and-a-half times normal size. Does Bramblett expect Auburn to whip Alabama by 25 points or something?

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