Metric HasslesHaving read George Will's complaints about...


September 15, 1992

Metric Hassles

Having read George Will's complaints about the metric system ("Going Bananas Going Too Far Going Metric," Aug.31), I wish to add a few of my own. Because of my trade, I have been equally familiar with the both the English and metric systems for most of my life.

But the inch is divided in binary fashion for good reason. Mark an inch on paper and divide it in half by eye and then in quarters, eighths and sixteenths. Now try dividing a centimeter into tenths by eye. If we had it all to do over, we might well use a base eight number system.

Metric nuts and bolts would seem a good idea except that there are at least five different systems in use worldwide. Parts that look alike often are not. Though there is an international standard for this, the sole user almost is the U.S. military .

On the subject of wrenches for hex-head bolts, there are about twice as many sizes in a metric set as in an inch set. One consequence is that if you mistakenly pick the next size up from the inch set, it will turn freely on the bolt head. Make the same mistake with the metric set and you strip the head.

Printed circuit boards used in electronics were once universally designed on a tenth-inch grid, with parts made to fit. we now have in some cases two parts of identical function, one to fit on a tenth-inch grid and one a 2.5 millimeter grid. Go Figure.

McKenny W. Egerton Jr.

Owings Mills

'Where Were You, Mr. Bush?'

As the 1992 Maryland teacher of the year, I recently spent a week with 45 other current state teachers of the year and 90 international educators and students.

. . . We were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the 1992 International Space Camp. . . .Our experience included three days in Washington, D.C., during which time our agenda was to include a White House address by President Bush and dinner with Vice President and Mrs. Quayle.

Through no fault of our sponsors, neither event happened, nor were we given an explanation as to why.

The "education president" and his sidekick apparently chose not to take advantage of a truly unique happening.

How embarrassing for all involved, especially when most of our international visitors had never been to the United States and had financed their own trips to join us in Washington.

I guess I can understand why Mr. Quayle may have been intimidated by such an elite group of gifted students and award-winning educators, but both he and Mr. Bush should be held accountable for their absences.

Once again, promises unkept and empty words. We should have known better.

This could have been, for the incumbents, an ideal public relations event, if not an arena for educational articulation and endorsement.

If, as our President stated in his acceptance speech at the convention, promoting the American ideal abroad is a priority, he should have literally looked in his own back yard. The world was there waiting; where were you, Mr. Bush?

Now you read my lips, sir -- you blew it. You missed a wonderful time, a moving and productive experiment in global understanding and initiative, an international summit of the very highest order.

Gemma Hoskins


Budget Questions

Each time I read in The Sun articles concerning the state budget and spending problems, there's a powerful urge to shout in a voice loud enough to be heard above the sound of your presses: "Excuse me, but isn't there something missing here?"

When your writers quote the governor or this or that legislative leader about "budget shortfalls," why is it I can never seem to find in their articles a comparison of this year's budget with last year's budget?

In other words, are we talking here about shortfalls in, and thus the need to reduce, what was to have been increased spending? If you'll simply give your readers the actual money figures on the two budgets, we can decide for ourselves whether spending is being reduced.

Another question of Sun readers that never seems to be answered is this: Do Maryland teachers receive incremental pay increases?

We are frequently reminded, as we were again in the Sept. 9 edition of The Sun, that teachers have not received a cost-of-living pay increase since January 1991.

Normally, a teacher's salary increases automatically for each year of experience in the classroom. An education writer certainly is aware of incremental raises.

Why, then, is information concerning this never mentioned, especially when statements continue to be published such as this one by Baltimore County School Superintendent Stuart Berger: The teachers "haven't had a raise in three years"?

The question remains unanswered: Are teachers and/or administrators getting incremental pay increases or not?

Jack Shelton


Don't Distort Malcolm X's Place in History

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