WEIGHING ON THE RIGHT SCALES
One of life's most interesting studies is to observe how
we measure things and people. How much does it hold? What
does it weigh? How much is it worth? How much is he or she
worth? A newspaper this week quoted a rock singer whose
huirmility was as visibly absent as his wisdom. "Just think,"
he said, "Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine and I am worth
more than Jonas Salk." Of course he isn't worth more than
Jonas Salk, he just has more money.
A vast governmental force does nothing but keep check on
the measuring devices in this land. This is vital because
most everything is measured. We buy groceries by pounds and
ounces, both dry and fluid. We buy electricity by kilowatts
and gasoline by gallons. A housewife uses linear measures to
cut material for new drapes. A butcher employs avoirdupois
weight to sell a roast. The fruit grower uses dry capacity
measures to ship his apples.
Often the standards of measurements differ. For instance,
I grew up in the oil field handling barrels of oil which
contained 55 gallons. Yet when I went to school I was taught
that a barrel of petroleum is 42 gallons and a barrel of any
other liquid contains 31.5 gallons. And even when you speak
of gallons you must be careful. We once owned an English
economy car described in the operator's manual as having a ten
gallon capacity petrol tank. Imagine my surprise the first
time I filled the tank and the pump registered eleven gallons.
Of course the riddle was settled in learning that a gallon
of petrol or gasoline in England is over 20% larger than a
gallon in the United States. In England my car held ten
gallons. Here it took more than twelve gallons to fill it.
At first I thought the gasoline pump at the service station
was inaccurate. That would be a serious thing. It is vital
we trust the measuring devices. At least the ones we are
A doctor, in an emergency, delivered a baby at home. He
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