So Many Opinions, So Little Time…

13 12 2011

Hello fellow net traveller.


Excuse me!

Yes – you at the back. You. Yes – the one pointing at themselves.

I just wanted to say thanks for dropping by, that’s all: According to, as of writing this first entry in my shiny new blog (I haven’t even taken the static peel strip off it yet) there are at least 8.28 billion pages you might have visited, and it’s a little humbling you stopped by this one. I know those are probably US billions (thousand millions) as opposed to “proper” billions (million millions), but even so… I’m pretty impressed you found this one in amongst them! A wrong turn perhaps? That makes you statistically likely to be male I suppose. Rather than stop and ask for directions, we males are more likely to plough on regardless until we’re completely lost, or even more likely… find a pub. This, my friend, is not a pub. You are never the less welcome to tarry a while and accept some good cheer.

OK, so “opinionated” is a label often attached to the author – without any serious defence ever having been offered. “Just plain wrong” is another – with only slightly more reluctance at agreement. I would like to think however that I do acknowledge when I’m wrong… even if it might take a while, and be quiet and mumbling even then. So in this spirit I thought it best to check my facts…

According to the generally accurate Wikipedia, though the different definitions of “billion” did indeed used to be called “American” and “British” throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, it was more accurately “English-speaking (except the UK)” and “Rest-of-the-world”.  It’s not clear why the UK had originally sided with the Frenchies on this one, though it might have had something to do with sour grapes over losing to the revolutionaries in 1776. I suspect it wasn’t that simple, since the French had a hand in helping the rebels in creating one of the worlds first tax havens. Of course, much of their offered help (particularly naval) went to waste, since the Americans thought that overcoming communication problems with coordinating the two forces could be achieved by simply shouting louder in English. A trend continued to this day by American travellers abroad. Typically while wearing plaid and refusing to drink the local water.

Eventually though, the UK caved in to the US in 1974 and around the time they changed all their money and weights and measures to the European metirc system, they changed the number system AWAY from it.  Long and short scales are what the number schemes are now known as… with continental Europe holding fast to principles cast aside by the UK. Of course, knowing the French are now the flag-bearers of 1012 as the definition of a billion, I might have to accept 109 after all…



3 responses

15 12 2021
Decablog | Quieter Elephant

[…] fist tentative toe-dip was called So Many Opinions, So Little Time…, and re-reading it just now I am embarrassed. Yes, by the arrogance I displayed and still share […]

21 12 2021

But “…since the Americans thought that overcoming communication problems with coordinating the two forces could be achieved by simply shouting louder in English…” is spot on.

21 12 2021
Quieter Elephant

Haha – you get the record for “comment with longest anticipation period”!

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