Re: Standard Problems

Subject: Re: Standard Problems
From: Andreas Ramos <andreas -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 1994 14:50:50 -0700

Dear Ray,
You'll love Brazil's electricity standard:
both 110 and 200.
both AC and DC
and all five types of electric plugs: two flat parallel, two
angled flat, two thin round and one large round, three round, two round.
Did I get them all?

Andreas Ramos, M.A. Heidelberg Sacramento, California

On Fri, 24 Jun 1994, Ray Bruman x2325 wrote:

> "David L. Bergart" <bodafu -at- CCVAX -dot- SINICA -dot- EDU -dot- TW> writes:
> >
> > Before temperature scales were weeded down to the two we use today,
> > there were all sorts of creative scales. My favorite used the temperature of
> > the dirt in the basement of a house in Paris (why am I not surprised?) as th

> > low temperature reference, and the rectal temperature of a cow (an ISO cow?)
> > in a field at noon on a sunny summer day as the high temperature reference.
> > Now *that* is what I call a standard.
> >

> Yay!! This is wonderful! It's time to announce my book project, called
> "Standard Problems."

> It seems to me that whenever human beings encounter an opportunity to
> standardize an otherwise arbitrary choice, they screw it up. Examples:

> If you think A4 versus "US letter" is fun, why not propose that your
> enterprise save paper and insist that all pages be only 8.0 by 10.5
> inches? Of course, you'll need new 3-ring binders, manila folders
> and so on, but your suppliers will be happy to warehouse both kinds of
> every paper-related merchandise. Won't they? You bet they will, if you
> are the United States Department of Defense! They only recently gave
> up on this amazing military specification.

> The human urge to screw up standards is more powerful than the urge
> to save lives or billions of dollars. Driving on the left No!! No!!
> It's Driving on the Right!! that causes people to step off the curb
> and be killed because they are looking to the right No!! that's WRONG!
> when they travel. American car manufacturers still seem mystified at
> the poor sales in Japan, though they never switched the steering wheels.
> If the Japanese manufacturers were that dumb, none of us would be in
> Accord. (Sorry about that.)

> Airplanes have run out of fuel, killing all aboard, because of confusion
> over gallons versus liters when they refueled.

> The United States is NOT the only country in the world stubbornly
> sticking to the "English" system of weights and measures. There is
> also the Sultanate of Brunei. And in Italy, household plumbing
> pipe uses American inch standards.

> Every country in the world has a standard for electrical plugs and
> receptacles. In fact there are 137 different national standards.

> When telegraphy was young, it made sense to put a slash through a zero
> to distinguish it from the letter "O" because there weren't many
> zeroes to transmit. When computers were new, they almost never had
> alphabetical characters to deal with, so they decided to slash the
> letter "O." Then came telecommunications.

> OK, Technical Writers! Send me your stories! I will give you
> editorial credit and attribution. Use E-mail rather than annoying
> the readers of TECHWR-L who aren't interested in Standard Problems.

> Ray Bruman Cogito, ergo remuneror.
> Raynet Corp.
> rbruman -at- raynet -dot- com I think, therefore I am paid.
> 415-688-2325

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