On Ridiculous Measures

I received recently an e-mail, purporting to contain a list of spurious weights and measures. Bizarre scales. Never, ever, possibly used scales.

Nothing like furlongs per fortnight or anything like that. But the “sheppey,” defined as “the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque,” or roughly 7/8 of a mile.

(Note to self: Use the term “sheppey” at work sometime while looking out the office window. “See that building over there? That’s got to be a good four or five sheppeys away, don’t you think?” It’ll create confusion in the marketplace, for certain!)

I particularly liked the “attoparsec”:

A parsec is approximately 3.26 light-years or about 3.085×10^16 m. Combining it with the “atto-” prefix yields attoparsec (apc), a conveniently human-scaled unit of about 3.085 centimeters (about 1 7/32 inches) that has no obvious practical use. 1 attoparsec/microfortnight is 1.0043 inch/second or approximately 2.55 cm/s).

See, now that’s a usable, if not necessarily useful, bit of measurement.

I, for instance, stand 49 3/4 apc tall. I suppose I could round up to fifty.

The nice thing about the attoparsec? It’s cosmic. When you want to define yourself in terms of cosmic-scaled measures, do it in parsecs! If you want to realize how insignificant you are in terms of the vastness of the interstellar void, do it in parsecs!

Ridiculous measures are so much fun! 😉

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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