Trip Reports

A Measured Response (31-Jan-2002-18-30):
6:00 PM local time, Thursday, January 31 (1200 Jan 31 UTC) 07 04 S 072 55 E. Temp. 84, Humidity 76%, Cloud Cover 20%. At anchor, Uligan, The Maldives.

Greetings from the crew of Maverick.

I am in receipt of the following admonition from the redoubtable Jim Mead, who, with Tim Eschliman, is senior staff at our website offices on the mainland:

"Dear Captain,

As webmaster for the USS MAVERICK web site, and an executive branch employee of the United States Government, it is my responsibility to ensure that our site complies with all regulatory orders, directives, and treaties, issued by, or entered into, by our officials in Washington. In that regard, I have checked with the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Office of Weights and Measures, (an agency of the Commerce Department), and they have informed me that we in the United States are still on the English System of measurement, and that the so-called "metric system" has no legal standing here.

In light of the above, and keeping in mind that the entire MAVERICK e-mail list lives in he United States, I am requesting that you discontinue using units such as kilograms and kilometers when describing weight and distance."

I here make public for the first time my response to Mr. Mead, the pertinence of which to the reader is the promise contained therein, extending to himself as well:

Dear Mr. Mead,

While it never fails to be an occasion of great joy to receive word from you, you can well imagine how thunderstruck I was with your implication that, having not seen any sign or notice of distances expressed in units other than the metric system since departing our dear country, I had innocently enough been herded down the road towards internationalism in measurement, which is, as I now realize thanks to your vigilance, one of the greatest threats to our freedom and way of life. Your straightforward and honest patriotism evidenced in the bold championing of this cause, together with your tender concern that the common American not be burdened with hard arithmetic problems, shames the rest of us and has had a bracing effect on my attention to this all too oft neglected issue.

When the Captain was still a lad in school, he was informed by his betters that the United States would soon be converting to the morally subversive system referred to in your letter. As the reaction of the public remained pococurante, the government seemed to recognize the potential evil of this policy, and gave it to various of their agencies for burial. But, Sir, the beast was not so easily slain, and I now urge you not to be content with a scolding of the Captain but take your protest to the highest levels. For I have in my hands this moment a document issued by our very own government, and this makes typing quite difficult. It bears the imprimatur of the Defense Mapping Agency of the United States of America, the arm of the US government that publishes this sort of thing for mariners, and, by the by, for the US Navy. It is chart number INT 71, Indian Ocean, but I could give many other equally egregious examples, wherein soundings are given in METERS. It would appear that a teetering of resolve to protect the American Way has infected the deepest levels of our military defense system.

Alas, it must be confessed that there is no recognized system of measurement that can trace its origins to American soil. All measurements besides the day, the month, and the year (which are themselves replete with fallacious assumptions born of man's hubris), and perhaps God's own unit, the cubit, are arbitrary, foreign, and uncannonical. The day may as well be divided into ten hours, a circle into 100 degrees, etc. There do, of course, exist the many practical advantages of adhering to a standard of measurement understood in all lands, however weak its theological or astronomical foundation, yet these need not concern men like ourselves for whom the tawdry din of commerce is but a faint hum.

But since above all, Mr. Mead, no man exists who more fervently than the Captain wishes to remain within the halo of your high esteem, and notwithstanding the absence of an American provenance for the measurements you propose, he is proud to give his solemn word herewith that in the composition of whatsoever missives be delivered of his pen from this day forth, he shall forswear the use of the insidious metric system of his beloved, yet alien, France.

Until the happy day I can learn of your approval of this sincere plan, I carry the hope that good fortune will gratify my ambition to have the honor of remaining, Dear Sir,

Your most humble servant and admirer,

The Captain

Next report from this location: Uligan

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