Wednesday, October 10, 2007

1 x Wales = Wales

Last night on Radio 4 I heard a show that is looking for geniuses (geniua? genii?), People are invited to send in their brilliant ideas and the genius of the week is chosen by that week's guest. Last night the judge was Germaine Greer so you can see the quality we're talking about here.

The idea that won was to resolve the prison over-crowding problem by making prisoners build their own cells from Lego. A short-term inmate would be given big Lego bricks; a lifer would get small. They could design their own cell, and privileges as rewards for good behaviour would include Lego televisions or Lego trees.

I can see its value but the runner-up was my personal favourite. He - and strangely, all the potential geniuses were male - suggested that instead of using hectare, square miles, acres etc to measure area, we should have units to which people can relate. Such as pinheads, thumb nails, up to football pitches, up to Wales and eventually Australia. So the United States, for instance, would be 2.25 Australias.

We'd have to retain actual measurements for accuracy but doesn't saying America is 2.25 Australias present you with a more realistic image of its size than saying that it's whatever million acres?

It could even be personalised to suit different countries or different groups of people. So car enthusiasts could use toy car to mini to Rolls Royce to articulated truck. I am really taken with this idea, and am thinking of launching a campaign to have it introduced. Are you with me?


jmb said...

I was following this along nicely until you got to the US being 2.25 Australias. No, no, I said. Australia is bigger than that. So with the help of Mr Google and a calculator. USA is 1.28 Australias (rounded off a bit). Phew, I was worried it was shrinking away to nothing.

Liz said...

Thank you, jmb. That is most helpful. Mine was just a guesstimate. But you see how well it works?!

MaryB said...

I rather like that new measuring system idea. It sure beats metric!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I think the new measurement terms are a good idea. Unfortunately, many of my fellow Americans are geography ignorant, thus they would have no idea the size of Wales (or wear it is) and I’ve met more than a few who confuse Australia with Austria.

Liz said...

That's why, Nick, you could have a system that suited your country. Maybe using states in America, so Texas could be the largest unit?

Gracchi said...

Great idea- I always wonder about what a metre actually measures! Given all measurements of length are arbitrary better have some which we can actually relate to :)

Lord Higham-Johnson said...

Last night the judge was Germaine Greer so you can see the quality we're talking about here.

Yes indeed, Liz - exceedingly poor quality from that excuse for a woman with her tired old diatribes.

What a shame because it might have been a programme for genii otherwise.

Stu Savory said...

No, I'm not with you! It would be even more confusing than the anglo-saxon system of measures.

Here is a transcription of a conversation with my German friend Matthias, who wanted to know how big an acre is. The easy answer is 'about 40% of a hectare', but I was teasing him:-

Q: What's an acre?
A: A furlong by a chain.
Q: What's a furlong?
A: Ten rods.
Q: and what's a chain?
A: Four perches.
Q: and what's a rod?
A: same as a perch.
Q: and what's a perch?
A: 5 1/2 yards.
Q: and what's a yard?
A: 3 feet?
Q: and what's a feet?
A: The singular is foot. It's 12 inches, which is 3 hands. this point he dotted me one ;-)

Liz said...

Oh, James, you'd better not say that to Welshcakes! She went to hear Germaine speak last weekend and was singing the lady's praises.

Liz said...

Our comments must have crossed in the air, stu. I can understand your friend's actions.

Good to see you back. I was getting worried.

Further on up the road said...

I'm glad jmb said that - I was thinking, really I thought Aus was bigger than that.

Gracchi - a meter was originally 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the poles to the equator. So it was directly related to the planet we live on. Most metric (SI) units had that kind of definition. The kilogramme was the mass of one litre of water originally.

Sadly in the age of technology and supreme measuring ability and lack of tolerance for fluctuation we now define a meter as... 1/299,792,458 of a light second. Yes well .... Liz you may have a point here.... :-)

Back to the winning idea... where would they stay whilst building the cell or am I missing the point here?

Oh yes - says geniuses... See this one post and so much brain effort... :-)

Liz said...

Indeed, futheron, I'm glad this post tested your brain cells.

I was wondering excatly the same thing about the cells but the question wasn't raised on the programme. A serious flaw I felt.

Gledwood said...

I heard that show as well... they measure lost rainforest by "the size of Wales" ALREADY... surely you've noticed!!

I thought that was a top idea... fancy bringing Germaine Greer in as judge haha ;->...

I didn't even know she's actually professor/lecturer person thing of English Literature at Oxford university! I just thought she wrote feminist diatribes and came on the radio/TV to talktalktalk - she's a fascinating lady... did you see her on Celebrity Big Brother? She didn't last long. Left of her own accord within about 24 hours...

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